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Better Understanding Through Writing: Calibrated Peer Review (Tm)

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Technology, Communications & Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.253.1 - 9.253.6



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Paper Authors

author page

John Wise

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2531

Better Understanding through Writing: Investigating Calibrated Peer Review ™ John C. Wise, Seong Kim The Pennsylvania State University


Calibrated Peer Review (CPR) was initially developed by UCLA in the 1990s as a way to use technology to increase the opportunities for student writing assignments.1 Writing about a concept has long been seen as one of the best ways to demonstrate student understanding. Unfortunately, it has always been true that more student writing assignments yields weekends lost in a sea of paper and grading schemes that ebb and flow in their accuracy. CPR applies the process of scientific peer review to education. Students perform research (study), write about their “findings”, submit it for blind review (and act as reviewers themselves), and finally use peer feedback to improve their understanding. All of this is possible without intervention from the instructor using CPR.

This paper reports on part of a continuing study on the utility of CPR in engineering education. In this instance, CPR was introduced into a writing-intensive laboratory course in chemical engineering. Students worked in teams, but were required to submit individually-crafted executive summaries using the CPR system. Assessment was based on instructor inspection of student work related to previous semesters and a survey administered to the students.


CPR was originally developed as a writing aid in large enrollment chemistry courses, but is now being used for various disciplines and subjects at over 300 schools and universities.1 The underlying theory is based on the scientific writing process. Students research a topic, write an essay, report, or similar output, and then submit their work for peer review. They also participate as reviewers themselves. The final stage requires the students to review their own work after having seen their peers’ writing. The process is illustrated in Figure 1.

While several other web-based peer review tools have been designed2,3, the “calibration” stage is unique to CPR. When the assignment is created, the instructor/author must develop three examples of student work: one excellent, one average, and one poor. The instructor/author then creates a scoring scheme (rubric) and rates each of the sample texts. After a student has completed his or her own writing and prior to being allowed to rate any fellow students, the student is presented with these examples and asked to rate them. This rating is compared to the rating assigned by the instructor/author. The similarity between the student and instructor’s ratings on the same text determines that student’s Reviewer Competency Index or RCI. The RCI ranges from a low of 1 to a high of 6 and is used to weight the rating given by any particular

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Wise, J. (2004, June), Better Understanding Through Writing: Calibrated Peer Review (Tm) Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13497

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