In ANT 320 Anthropology of Sexuality and Gender, students work in pairs to compose posters that address an issue on campus or in a workplace related to sexualty and/or gender. For example, one pair of students is writing about intimate partner violence and bystander intervention. Another pair is writing about the erasure of queer people through daily microaggressions. A core component of the assignment is peer review. Each student will review other students’ posters and provide feedback. In the assignment instructions, I have included why peer review is critical to the project, including bringing new information and perspectives, ensuring high-quality work, improving critical thinking skills, and the opportunity to practice providing critical, meaningful, and constructive feedback.
To facilitate collaboration and the peer review process, I am using Google Docs for the poster project and the peer review. Each pair of students creating a poster has a Google Folder that I created for them. It looks like this. In the folder is a template of a Google Slide using the correct dimensions for printing. Also located in each folder is a Google Form with the questions for the peer review. When students are ready to engage in the peer review, they simply share their poster via the sharing settings in Google Slides. They then send the form to their designated peer reviewers, which I have chosen for them and noted in the assignment instructions.
A student who is conducting the peer review will receive a link to the form in their inbox. The form includes guiding questions for students to consider as they work through the poster. When a student completes a peer review, the results are logged under “responses” in the Google Form. This way, each pair of students only sees the feedback related to their poster, it is accessible anywhere there is internet, and both authors of the poster can see the feedback.
Prior to using Google Docs for the peer review of posters, I found peer review difficult because I did not want students to waste paper by printing the first draft of their poster.. That made sharing the poster difficult. Using Google Drive for this endeavor has eliminated the seemingly endless paper shuffle that my old peer review process used to ential. Furthermore, students can leave specific feedback on the poster using the “suggesting” mode in Slides.
If you are considering doing peer review for a project in your class, here are some important tips:
- Schedule the peer review during class time. That way you are there to address any technology concerns and where things are or how to do them.
- Use a technology lab on campus, such as the Advanced Technology Lab at Connecticut College. The monitors are much bigger than students’ laptops, which enables them to see the poster better.
- Make sure to include in your instructions that students must read the poster once, read it a second time, fill out the peer review, and then read the poster a third time to make sure they provided quality feedback. Otherwise, they will rush through the assignment.
- Also be sure to include instructions on how to handle the peer review feedback. This semester, I am asking students to make their revisions and then write a few short paragraphs addressing why the feedback and changes they made. This reinforces the critical thinking component, and it provides valuable experience in how to professionally handle criticism.
This fall, I am teaching Anthropology 320, Anthropology of Sexuality and Gender. In the past, I have struggled with this course because a central part of my pedagogical approach is to have some aspect of each course I teach connect to our local community and be applied. In the past, I tried connecting to Safe Futures, Southeastern Connecticut’s shelter and advocacy group working against intimate partner violence. One year, we had a tour of their facility in New London and a meaningful conversation with their employees, but it was clear that our class was taking time and resources away from their work. Our exchange was not equal, and I struggled with what to do instead. Part of the problem was that it is hard to engage with community around issues of sexuality and gender without undergoing serious, time-intensive training that is difficult to schedule in a semester. I have been hesitant to have students work on a research project because of the ethical issues and privacy concerns surrounding gender and sexuality as culturally delicate topic areas. However, students in this class have always been well-prepared to thoroughly engage in timely topics that impact their daily lives, a fact that pushed me to seek a solution. Finally, in talking it over with previous Technology Fellows, I decided that a website and some creativity could be the answer.
I have tasked students with writing fictional ethnographies about a particular problem on campus or in a workplace related to gender and/or sexuality, like intimate partner violence, sexual harassment, transphobia, etc.. Students will share these fictional ethnographies on a website. Fictional ethnographies are becoming popular ways of exploring sensitive issues in anthropology; I was attracted to them because they do not come with the privacy and security concerns of traditional research. Instead, students use existing ethnographic research to write the experience of their identified problem from a particular point of view(s). Doing so allows a deeper exploration of the issue, and it allows students to highlight often marginalized perspectives. For that reason, sharing them on a website is a critical means of creating dialogue around important campus issues. In the follow-up assignment that serves as the final for this course, students will propose a series of interventions to address their chosen topic.
Given the applied nature of the assignment, I asked to be part of the Career Informed Learning (CIL) initiative on campus that intentionally connects coursework to a potential application via a given assignment. I will describe more about our involvement in CIL and how we will use our website as part of this program in a subsequent blog post.
*This post was written by Joyce Bennett and Rachel Black
Why use rubrics
We have been using rubrics for the new ConnCourse that we co-designed “Power and Inequality in a Globalized Word.” Joyce first taught the course in the fall of 2016, when she used rubrics for each of the writing assignments and the in-class presentations. She found the rubrics helpful in creating an even set of standards by which to evaluate each work, and it helped her tackle the daunting task of grading more than 50 assignments by streamlining the work, making my time grading more reasonable and focused. Additionally, using rubrics on Moodle allows the instructor to leave specific feedback next to each criteria, which we have found effective for getting students to understand how to improve their work. While it takes time to develop a rubric, the amount of time it saves during grading is well worth it.
How to use rubrics in Moodle
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to create a rubric on a Moodle assignment. Note that Moodle presumes students are submitting the assignment via Moodle. If you prefer paper copies of papers but want to provide digital feedback so that you and the student have access to the feedback, you can still create the rubric but simply ask students to hand in a hard copy of their paper.
- In your Moodle course site, but sure you have editing turned on. From there, add an assignment as you would any other assignment.
- When creating the assignment, under “Grade,” look for “Grading Method.” In the drop-down menu, select “rubric.” Once you have arranged everything else you want for the assignment (if it is included in gradebook, feedback types, etc.), click “Save and display.”
- On the left hand side of the screen, scroll down to a toolbox called “Assignment administration.” From here, click on “Advanced grading.” A link called “Define Rubric” will appear just below it. Click on that link.
- On this page, you can either import a previous rubric by searching for the name of the previously used rubric, or you can create a new one by selecting “Define a new form.”
- If defining a new rubric, you will be able to “add criterion” and also “add levels.” Typically, we have found that having more levels of points available to students is better. We recommend having 5 levels for each criteria.
Once you have created your rubric, you can come back and edit it at any time. Be aware that students can see the rubric before they turn the assignment in, so you want to have given this some thought before students begin working on the assignment. Otherwise, you may want to hide the assignment until you are ready for students to consult the rubric.
A few pointers for creating and using rubrics
- Suggest that students consult the rubric before handing in the assignment. This will help make expectations clear. In addition Rachel has suggested that student download the rubric and have a peer review their assignment using the criteria on the rubric.
- Be sure that the rubric speaks to all elements of the assignment. The more you can break down your assessment, the more likely this will be helpful to students in understanding their strengths and weakness.
- Be sure you have enough evaluations points. This is important because you can end up with very low or high grades if you do not add enough variation in points in each category. Keep the final tallies in mind when designing your rubric.
- Remember that Moodle allows you to add additional comments at the end of the rubric. This is a good opportunity to further personalize feedback.
To each their own
As with any kind of grading, the use of rubrics is relatively personalized. Between the two of us, we each have preferences that work better for us. For example, Rachel likes to include rubric categories that focus on student development of specific skills related to writing and argumentation. She also likes to focus parts of the rubric on the integration of specific concepts related to course materials and discussion. Rachel finds that this helps students focus their work and develop skills that they will use beyond the one course. Joyce likes to take the assignment instructions and break them up into different components of the rubric. She prefers to leave rubrics a little bit flexible so that students can bring innovation and their own interests to the assignments, where appropriate. Joyce finds this approach helps students think about the components their work should include while also keeping them interested because they get to have their own input. It is important to consider your course and assignment objectives when creating your rubric. If you work your objectives into the rubric evaluation, you will be providing your students with a clear framework for what is expected of them.
Image credit: By Cleonard1973 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons