Peer Feedback Success in Online Learning

Belland, B., Camin, D., Connolly, P., Coulthard, G., Ertmer, P., Kimfong, L., Mong, C., & Richardson, J. (2007) Using peer feedback to enhance the quality of student online postings: An exploratory study. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication. pp. 412- 433.

This article explored whether peer feedback would result in higher level discussion forum postings of students in online higher educational settings. The level of participation in the discussion forums was evaluated based on the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

This study is pertinent to the field of educational technology since peer feedback in online courses has not been as highly researched as peer feedback in traditional brick and mortar settings. The peer feedback evaluated in this study explored how providing peer feedback can result in deeper levels of cognition, since synthesis and evaluation are necessary to provide constructive feedback to peers. Many educational technology researchers came to the consensus that deeper levels of cognition and in depth learning occurs through the implementation of peer feedback. Peer feedback encourages the synthesis of a variety of opinions and perspectives of content knowledge, which leads to higher levels of cognition and evaluation of feedback, which is the highest goal of learning acquisition.

The collaboration of feedback leverages critical thinking skills of the learner and the evaluator. The peer feedback in this research requires students to compare and contrast ideas, which results in further analysis of various perspectives. Peer feedback also allows students to gauge whether their perspectives concur with their peers, or cultivates deeper analysis of content to develop analyses that are similar to their peers. Deep reflection and cognition from analysis must occur for learners to feel confident in defending their initial thoughts, or adjusting their thoughts based on reasonable and valid analysis that are provided from peers. In addition, this study emphasized the importance of prompt, reliable and meaningful feedback to optimize the learning acquisition of students receiving peer feedback. The sharing of multiple perspectives of various peers and instructors helps to place students on similar levels of learning acquisition in higher educational settings and cultivates online learning communities. Prompt and constructive feedback also assists with retention and motivation of students in online settings.

Although peer feedback is considered to be a best practice in educational technology, the comfort level of students providing peer feedback to other students must be taken into consideration. Studies indicate that students must cultivate a trusting online community with peers to receive and be comfortable and flexible with feedback. Online students still consider instructor feedback from a subject matter expert to be more effective than solely relying on peer feedback to gauge their learning acquisition. Learners exhibited concern regarding the fairness and objectivity of peers that are not subject matter experts for evaluation of their postings.

This article is beneficial to the field of educational technology since it provides feedback strategies that can result in higher levels of cognition in online learning acquisition. It emphasizes the advantages of receiving feedback from peers compared to instructors, which can assist in developing effective pedagogical strategies that benefit learners, instructors, as well of the field of educational technology research.

As an educator, I have facilitated peer feedback through instructional strategies, as well as received peer feedback form colleagues. I found that implementing peer feedback is a valuable instructional tool that helps learners to achieve learning goals and gain higher levels of cognition through peer tutoring, peer reading and collaborative discussion. I have also benefitted from peer feedback in online discussion forums by having a platform to discuss issues that are important to me and education. I also learn from various educational technology perspectives from my peers that have expertise in various educational settings. Peer feedback is a viable and successful pedagogical strategy that can enhance learning acquisition for a variety of learners.

Related Article:

Ruegg, R. (2015) Differences in the uptake of peer and teacher feedback. RELC Journal. Vol. 46 pp. 131-145.

45 thoughts on “Peer Feedback Success in Online Learning

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