I have also learned to appreciate the learning effect of peer review. In this course, we have practiced self-assessment and peer assessment for every post we create. But I did not fully appreciate what peer review is all about until the refining stage, where we evaluate classmate’s course design. Professor gave us a checklist, or a set of criteria, embedded in a course review form. There are many questions to go through, slightly different from the checklist two weeks ago.
When I did the review, I allowed myself to be in a position of an instructional designer. I went through the list very carefully, and made extensive comments. All was done without thinking about my own course, which was also being reviewed by others. Not reflecting back to my own course made my review of others easier. That’s because I was able to take a disinterested stance and give an impartial review. All I cared about was whether or not the course had satisfied the requirements, and nothing else. Had I been too reflective about my own course, I could have been bothered by consideration such as, “geez, I did not complete this part either, maybe I should be easy on this guy, give him a break”. That would have generated biased and unreliable course review for my classmates.
When I went through the same course review process three times, and revisited my own course design. Boy I can tell you, it’s not pretty. I knew coming into that week my course was far from complete, but I knew I did my best, and did not think it’s that bad. Broken links, inconsistent presentation, incomplete contents were all over the place. (I thank my reviewers for their patience and valuable suggestions, really.) Fortunately, I could see these problems clearly, and figured out plan of revisions right away. I felt like my understanding of the criteria of good course design had increased significantly simply by changing the perspectives back and forth between reviewer and self-reviewer. What I learn to love the peer review activity is that, peer review allows learners to temporarily detach themselves from their own works, in which they have vested interests, and adopt a perspective of an objective observer by applying a set of standards. By doing so, learners learn to appreciate the value of the objective standards, and therefore acquire a keener insight into their own works later on.