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Calibrated Peer Review™: Implementation of a computer-based writing-to-learn tool in a large introductory biology class.
Olsen, Laura1, Osgood, Marcy*,1, Ammerlaan, Marc1, Eideitis, Laura1, Johnson, Shelley1, Yu, Lita1, 1 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
ABSTRACT- Asking students to write about complex concepts can often clarify interrelationships between the facts, and lead to more complete understanding. But how can an instructor integrate more writing on important conceptual topics into a class that has 500 students? Calibrated Peer Review™ (CPR) is a web-based instructional program developed by chemists at UCLA that enables frequent writing assignments without increasing the instructors grading load. At the University of Michigan during the Winter 2002 semester, CPR has been implemented on a trial basis in 5 sections (of 27 total) of a majors Introductory Biology course that has a total enrollment of more than 500 students. Each of 4 assignments required that students write an essay on a specific (and important) topic, and then perform critical reviews first of calibrated essays, then of 3 randomly assigned peer essays, and finally, a self-assessment of the original essay. The goals of each assignment were to increase student understanding of an important concept relevant to the class and to teach them to write and think critically. Peer review is a fundamental process used in most professions, but students generally have received little guidance to develop this skill. In this study, we will assess student outcomes both qualitatively and quantitatively at the end of the semester. The CPR lab and discussion sections will be compared to matched sections that relied on traditional assignments.
KEY WORDS: Education