A peer evaluation scheme using “salaries”

When students work in groups on bigger assessments like projects, papers, posters, and presentations, instructors often include peer evaluation in the assessment of the project. That is, they ask students to assess each other’s contributions to the project, and those assessments are part of the final grade the students receive.

I learned about a peer assessment scheme from my friend Rique Campa at Michigan State University where students pay each other “salaries” for their work, and their grade for the project depends on the total salary they “earn”.

Here’s a graphic I made to explain how it works:

After I posted a draft version on Twitter, I had some great conversations with @ProfTucker @JeanMaines @drlestj @chemnet_au @jgustar @charlesmenzies @sgraingerPhD @mspencer09 @TeachingBehind1 @usankar2 @epm_morris @DrPatMaher @meganbarkerase @EWhitteck @bhundey @DocRobinYoung Thank-you, all, for the conversations, feedback, and ideas. It led to some revisions:

    • Do students include themselves in the assessment? That is, do they pay themself any of the $100? I think it’s a good idea since it prompts them to reflect on their own contributions and metacognition is always a win. Plus, it gives the course instructor another way to check for suspicious evaluations, like if Jamal, Jennifer, and Jing all pay only $10 to Juan but Juan pays himself $90. Something doesn’t sync there.
    • Instructors (and students) may be nervous about letting students determine the grades on a big project that could determine the success of the students in the course. That’s why I recommend the peer evaluation scheme should be just one component of the project grade. As suggested in the footnote in the graphic, the course instructor could assess the group’s
      • draft (20%)
      • group presentation or poster (20%)
      • over all assessment (50%)

      Each member of the group would receive the same mark on this first 90%. The peer assessment scheme could be used to determine the last 10% of the final grade.

    • A few of the conversations were about the, er, icky feeling of using money to assess each other. I think this salaries scheme needs to fit into the context of the course. In Rique Campa’s courses, the students in Fisheries and Wildlife were looking ahead to careers as consultants in engineering and environment management firms and in the government. They were familiar with projects, bids, budgets, invoices, and so on. For them, salaries were familiar. I’d hesitate to use this scheme in a course that has no connection with money.

By the way, I’m pretty happy with the graphic. It’s a PowerPoint slide with a table surrounded top and bottom by text boxes. I really like the set of free avatars by Hopnguyen Mr on iconfinder (I made a few slight modifications to make them a bit more diverse.)


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