This is an archive of the 2013 version of ocTEL.

#ocTEL week 7 – activity 7.1 Designing learner support (peer support)

I am interested in encouraging more of a peer support thread through one of my modules.  I therefore decided to have a look at some of the ocTEL resources in this area.  I found the REAP project principles practical, pragmatic and well-considered, so I have used these as the framework for my learning design (

Context:  This is a level 3/4 undergraduate course which is discursive and theory-based in nature.  In the current session, I continued with an activity included in the course design when I took it over this year – this was having students, in small groups, review past answers to an essay question and critique them.  However, they were quite reticent to provide comments, although fairly happy to put these in a grade boundary. So, I think there is more to do to really get the benefit from this activity in terms of feed-forward to coursework and exam essay improvement.  I did not provide detailed criteria for this activity, but I did for the assessed coursework.

Initial thoughts: I think the timing needs to be changed so that we do this activity earlier in the course, so there is more time for reflection in the run up to coursework submission.  I also think I need to give some overall criteria (these will probably be the overall grading criteria used in the department) to accompany this activity.  If there isn’t time in class, this could become an online activity.  I don’t currently ask the students to comment on each others’ work – I think I want to do more with this first to see if that would be feasible later.

Mapping of proposed design to the REAP criteria:

Atmosphere of trust – need to set some ground rules, such as no marks will be given, the ‘test scripts’ are anonymised and old, make clear that this is non-assessed, but is important because it will give suggestions of how students can improve performance in assessed work, give some examples of useful and not so useful feedback comments, what my role is (facilitate and give feedback on the feedback).

Practice with criteria – we could do one together in class and I’d go through the criteria and what they mean.

Explanations for review comments – linking back to the good feedback example, this would have advice for what needs to be done differently next time.  Students’ comments would be expected to do the same.

Practice in holistic appraisals – good example would have overall comments, to act as a model for student reviews.

Dialogue around reviews – explain that students need to be prepared to justify their comments.  If groups were looking at the same examples, then each group would need to justify comments and then I could draw out the justification for differences from each group.

Integrate self-reviews -this is tricky with the design I have specified.  I think there could be a link to using these criteria for self-review for assessed coursework.  Students can already submit drafts to me, but I think I could ask them to do self-review first and do a summary for me when they submit their draft to demonstrate that they have taken this step first.

Signposts for quality – mainly through me feeding back on the reviews.  Harder to do in class if oral exercise – would be easier for me to do if followed up online later (e.g. via a wiki or discussion board thread).

Encourage reflection on received reviews – not in the current design.  One to try later!

Make review a regular activity – this is interesting.  I think there would be further scope on the course in future years.


PS I really liked the idea of ‘one minute papers’ which was linked through from the REAP website i.e. questions you ask to encourage reflection at the end of a classroom session (e.g. a lecture).  I am experimenting with some classroom voting via iPads, iPhones and Android that can deal with free-text answers, so I think I might use this and then start the next class with the feedback from the end of the previous class.

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