New tool helps bring accountability to student peer-review process

Learn more about Circuit at Jan. 24 professional development event 

Before she started using Circuit in her course, Amy Sheehan knew the class days dedicated to peer-review were going to be some with the lowest attendance; the quality of the peer-review process was questionable, too.

“Student participation was pretty sporadic,” says Sheehan, an associate professor of pharmacy practice. “There was little accountability, and probably not that much value to the students. It wasn’t working like I hoped.” Amy Sheehan, associate professor of pharmacy practice

But the peer-review process is important to Sheehan and her course, which is designed to teach future pharmacists how to critically evaluate published drug studies. She knew her students needed to take the process seriously. Then she heard about Circuit.

Circuit is a peer-review tool created by Studio at Purdue, an Innovative Learning Team unit that works with instructors to develop educational tools. More than a dozen instructors provided insight into the development of Circuit, which is designed to provide calibrated peer-review for a variety of formats – text, images, video and more.

Students upload their work directly to Circuit, which assigns each student three of their peers’ submissions. Instructors can include rubrics or grading scales for students to use in their evaluation. Circuit also provides an optional calibration tool that measures a student’s ability to review the material appropriately. Calibration scores are then used in assigning the actual evaluations, helping to provide a more fair review process.

“Circuit gives you that accountability,” says Kaitlin Montagano, a drug information fellow teaching in Sheehan’s class. “You can look and see that students have done the work, and students have a better understanding of what it means to review another student’s work.”

In Sheehan’s class, students use Circuit as part of their regular course assignments, and students conduct their peer-reviews in class, where they can ask instructors questions.

“So you get a sense of how the students are reading the assignments and looking at the rubric,” says Montagano.

Having used Circuit for one semester, Sheehan says it is still too early to tell what impact the tool can have on students’ grades. But she believes Circuit has elevated the effort students put into the peer-review process, and she’s hopeful it will improve not only the quality of her students’ work, but also their critical thinking skills, which ultimately is the point of her course.

“The peer-review process is important, not just because it improves the student’s paper,” says Sheehan. “It helps them think more critically about what they’re reading and ultimately what they’re writing – which is an important skill they’ll need throughout their careers.”

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 Want to learn more about how to get started with Circuit in the classroom? An “Introduction to Circuit” event will be held on Thursday, 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 24. Click on this link for more information and to register.

 The Innovative Learning Team can also provide one-on-one consultation about Circuit and other Studio at Purdue tools. To schedule, contact tlt@purdue.edu.

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 Writer: Dave Stephens, technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue, 765-496-7998, steph103@purdue.edu

 Last updated: January 11, 2019