Gradient

In 2003, the National Commission on Writing in America's Schools and Colleges identified writing as neglected foundational skill in the American curriculum. Among the solutions to this problem the commission presented was a call for educators at all levels to avow themselves of instructional technology that “enhance the ability of students and teachers to assess writing samples” and permit students to share and edit their work with each other” (The neglected “R”, 2003).

Gradient does this and more. It affords Purdue instructors the ability to:

  • have any course (even large enrollment courses) participate in peer review
  • calibrate reviewer writing expectations for quality control (Gerdeman, Russell, & Worden, 2007)
  • provide structure and guidance for students reviewing peer writing
  • use course-specific scholarly material as a guide to student writing
  • give automated as well as peer-reviewed feedback

Research on the topic of peer review supports many of the current features of Gradient. Receiving peer review can improve student performance and understanding, but it isn’t always feasible for a single instructor to provide detailed feedback to every student (Trautmann, 2007; Pelaez, 2002). By allowing students to review each other’s assignments each student can potentially receive more in-depth reviews even at scale in large lecture (100+ students) courses (Ruggiero & Harbor, 2012).  

Using researched-based methodologies for structuring peer-review, Gradient incorporates calibrations in its writing framework as a means to evaluate the work of their peers and provide self-reflection (Prichard, 2005).  Additionally, Gradient’s usage of calibration and peer review can assist students in learning and becoming comfortable with discipline specific writing conventions (Rourke et al., 2008).


National Commission on Writing in America's Schools and Colleges. The neglected “R”: The need for a writing revolution. New York: College Board. (2003). Available: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED475856

Gerdeman, R. D., Russell, A. A., & Worden, K. J. (2007). Web-based student writing and reviewing in a large biology lecture course. Journal of College Science Teaching, 36(5), 46.

Pelaez, N. J. (2002). Problem-based writing with peer review improves academic performance in physiology. Advances in physiology education, 26(3), 174-184.

Prichard, J. R. (2005). Writing to learn: An evaluation of the Calibrated Peer Review™ program in two neuroscience courses. J Undergrad Neurosci Ed, 4, A34-A39.

Rourke, A.J., Mendelssohn, J., Coleman, K., and Allen, B. Did I mention it’s anonymous? The triumphs and pitfalls of online peer review. Proceedings from the Australian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education, 2008 Melbourne, QLD.

Ruggiero, D., & Harbor, J. (2012). Calibrated Peer Review (CPR) Effective writing assignments online with much less instructor time..... But what do the students think? In T. Amiel & B. Wilson (Eds.), Proceedings of EdMedia: World Conference on Educational Media and Technology 2012 (pp. 981–991). Denver, Colorado, USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved from https://www.learntechlib.org/p/40873

Trautmann, N. Interactive learning through web-mediated peer review of student science reports. Educational Technology Research and Development, 57, (2009) 685-704.

How Do I Set it Up?

Email tlt@purdue.edu with the name of the course you'd like added to Gradient, along with a brief description, and it will be set up for you. Course details can then be edited and learners and instructors added under the "Manage Courses" section of the Instructor Dashboard.

Resources

Faculty Testimonials

photo of Jon Harbor

Jon Harbor

Professor of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences

Director of Digital Education and Associate Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning

"This is a game changer – a new way to do writing assignments in a large enrollment class."

Learn More

photo of Larry DeBoer

Larry DeBoer

Professor, Agricultural Economics

"Information in the real world doesn’t come at students in nice multiple choice questions. It comes in free-flowing forms. With Gradient, students can get credit for applying course concepts to real issues in a form they will encounter the rest of their lives."

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