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Peer-to-Peer Assessment in Large Classes: A Study of Several Techniques Used in Design Courses

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Research in Assessment

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1031.1 - 25.1031.13



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Paper Authors


Peter M. Ostafichuk University of British Columbia

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Peter Ostafichuk is a Senior Instructor and the Associate Head (yeaching) in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of British Columbia. He has co-developed and coordinates the multi-award winning integrated Mech 2 program for second-year mechanical engineering. Ostafichuk received a B.A.Sc. in engineering physics in 1997 and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering in 2004, both from the University of British Columbia.

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Jim Sibley University of British Columbia, Vancouver


H.F. Machiel Van der Loos University of British Columbia

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H.F. Machiel Van der Loos received the ingénieur mécanicien degree from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (1979), and an engineer’s degree (1984) and Ph.D. (1992) from Stanford University in mechanical engineering, all in the domain of robot interface design. He is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, teaches design courses, and specializes in research related to human-robot interaction and roboethics, primarily in rehabilitation applications.

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Peer-to-Peer Assessment in Large Classes: A Study of Several Techniques Used in Design CoursesTeam assignments and projects form an essential part of undergraduate engineering education. Peer-to-peer assessment, through students evaluating the work of other teams, has the potential to greatly enrichstudent learning and the classroom environment, and compliment instructor-based assessments. The actof assessing the work of another team requires students to apply higher-level thinking skills, such asevaluation, judgment, and critical thinking. In addition, when the assessment is done in-class in aninteractive way, there is the potential to increase student interest and engagement with the course andcourse material. With increases to class sizes, peer-to-peer assessment is one of the few scalableassessment strategies available to educators. Lastly, with international shifts to outcome-basedaccreditation, carefully phrased team peer-to-peer assessments can be used to demonstrate in part severaldesired attributes (such as problem analysis, communication, teamwork, life-long learning, and so on).Several design courses in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at [School Name] have adopted aTeam-Based Learning (TBL) approach. A feature of these courses is to use some of the class time forstudent teams to present their work on assignments or projects, and then to critique and evaluate the workof other teams. Managing these sessions in a large-class environment (70-120 students) has proven to bechallenging, but, through several iterations, a number of techniques have been identified and developedthat seem to work well in the design engineering classroom setting. These techniques include: evaluationof designs through a poster gallery walk; “hot seat” discussions based on a ranking of student designsalong a common performance metric; design tournaments where candidate designs are successivelyeliminated through multiple rounds of review; and “design manager roleplaying” where teams authorizeor reject candidate designs for production based on single-page summaries (consisting of assumptions,methods, results, and recommendations).This paper will review the four in-class peer-to-peer techniques described above in the context offostering higher-level thinking, student engagement, instructional effort, and connection to accreditation.Examples of each technique will be provided, along with instructor observations. Correlations betweenstudent and teaching assistant evaluations will be examined, along with quantitative and qualitativestudent feedback collected through surveys and examining interest and perceived effectiveness. Lastly,an analysis of how the in-class peer-to-peer assessments might be used to demonstrate some accreditationrequirements (such as Outcomes a-k for the ABET requirements or the 12 Graduate Attributes of theCanadian Engineering Accreditation Board) will be considered.

Ostafichuk, P. M., & Sibley, J., & Van der Loos, H. M. (2012, June), Peer-to-Peer Assessment in Large Classes: A Study of Several Techniques Used in Design Courses Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21788

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