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Peer Review In Engineering Courses As A Learning Tool

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Factors Affecting Student Performance

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.988.1 - 11.988.25



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Paper Authors

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Scott Hamilton U.S. Military Academy

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Leslie Brunell Stevens Institute of Technology

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Gunnar Tamm U.S. Military Academy

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Ozer Arnas U.S. Military Academy

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

Peer Review in Engineering Courses as a Learning Tool


Engineering students will often submit assignments that have not been checked for accuracy or whether the results make sense, and rarely are there high marks for presentation. While this is completely unacceptable and unethical in professional engineering, this disturbing trend has become more common (and even acceptable) in the classroom. Many students are defining success as the act of submission of an assignment, while showing little concern for its content or presentation. A learning tool is proposed with the immediate goal of meeting higher standards in student assignments, while lasting goals are to foster a greater sense of ownership and pride in any work that is submitted.

This paper presents the results of three independent research projects to explore the use of the professional practice of peer review in engineering courses. This methodology was originally instituted as a system of mandatory collaboration in two structural analysis courses offered at the United States Military Academy (USMA), through forced peer review of all individual homework. Based on the assessments from both students and faculty, various iterations of the peer review concept have emerged in subsequent semesters in both courses, the goals of which remain to increase student learning:

• by interacting with ones classmates • by having to explain ones own work • by correcting mistakes and errors in others’ work • by learning ones own abilities and limitations • by preparing work to be reviewed by others (increased responsibility) • by modeling the professional aspects of having work reviewed for correctness

In addition to the structural analysis courses, this general methodology was used in a heat transfer course at USMA in which progress reports were peer reviewed during a semester long design project. A third independent application was developed at Stevens Institute of Technology for a fluid mechanics course.

The methods and outcomes of the three studies are assessed and compared in this paper. Student attitudes toward the process and their perceived value of peer review as a learning tool are also examined, based on anonymous survey results. It was found that although apprehensive at first, students eventually took to the idea and its purpose. Surprisingly, data also indicated that peer review grades provided by students matched well with grades provided by the instructors, evidencing that the students took the review process seriously and understood the review criteria. Finally, this paper discusses future work on this project to validate the value of peer review as a learning tool, and offers suggestions for future implementations of this strategy.

Hamilton, S., & Brunell, L., & Tamm, G., & Arnas, O. (2006, June), Peer Review In Engineering Courses As A Learning Tool Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1189

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