For this final reflection, we were asked to consider peer review as a tool. As I read the resources provided, two articles in particular stuck out to me. These sections caught my attention:
“In many classrooms that use traditional assessment methods, teachers ask students to present their final projects to the class. The usual result? One student at the front of the room reading PowerPoint slides aloud to a room of dozing fellow students. Peer critiques, in contrast, demand dynamic participation. Listeners must not only attend to each presentation, but also offer concrete suggestions for its improvement while commending aspects of the work that they appreciate” (Reynolds, 2009).
“Lastly, students must learn to see mistakes as natural. This helps them take risks and understand that reworking is normal. Otherwise, the students can never be convinced that reworking their products will actually benefit them. Fail early and fail often, though it sounds crazy, is a great classroom mantra” (Ruff, 2010).
Keeping students engaged when they are not the ones speaking can be a challenge in the math classroom. By encouraging students to critique the work of their peers, it can help them to practice their abilities to find problems in their own work down the road.
Math is a subject of which most students have an innate fear. By fostering an environment where students can make mistakes without their peers being overly negative, students will not have the penalty to feelings of self-efficacy that can otherwise come from errors, and students will learn to see mistakes as stepping stones to solutions.
One way that I’ve seen this incorporated into a classroom was in a physics class. The teacher didn’t directly grade the homework. Instead, she would randomly call on a person to work one of the problems on the board and would continue to do so until there were no more problems. This allowed the other students in the class to critique your work, but since the grade was on whether you had done the problem, not done it right, there was no stigma against making a mistake. The only way you could fail the homework assignment was to not have the problem you were called on to do finished. If you didn’t do the work, you didn’t get a grade, but if you made the attempt, you’d have the chance to discuss what you’d done. As I read these articles and reflected back on those assignments, I decided to that I’m going to look to incorporate something similar into my current classes. Peer feedback is a powerful tool, and one that I would like to utilize more.
Reynolds, A. (2009). Why every student needs critical friends. Educational Leadership, 67(3), 54–57.