By Barbara Metcalf, Teaching Faculty Member, Bachelor of Nursing Program, Faculty of Health and Human Sciences, VIU
I would like to end my series on the CPR process with my particular learning from this process and what I would do differently next time. First off, I would just like to say that I feel this process is beneficial to students and that much of the dissatisfaction with the process that I and the students felt was due to the growing pains associated with trying something new. For me, the majority of my issues will be handled with the electronic software that will take on the marking I found to be onerous. So I will concentrate on how I will change this process given that it would be mostly done electronically.
With the marking becoming a non-issue, I would be able to spend much more time with students one-on-one. I would take more class time to actually teach them how to write a scholarly paper for something other than an English class. I know that many of the comments from students came from their difficulty in seeing the difference between an English essay and a scholarly paper, not the least of which is the difference in using APA for referencing rather than MLA. Even something as simple as the use of a reference list vs a bibliography is enough to stress them to the point of inertia. So I would take at least part of a class to discuss things like organization within the paper vs organization within a paragraph and the proper use of the literature and examples from their practice to reinforce a point.
I tried to ensure anonymity of the writers and markers through the use of pseudonyms, but apparently the sharing of pseudonyms was rampant. Some who did not share their pseudonyms felt that they were at a disadvantage. One said, “…from discussions with peers it was not difficult to know who was marking my paper… I feel it was incredibly inappropriate for them to be talking about a peer’s paper in the manner which they did especially since they did not know who that paper belonged to”. I will address this even more empathically than I did in our class on confidentiality. That same student suggested having the year above them give them the peer feedback, which I thought was an interesting idea, albeit unlikely from a logistics perspective. Several thought the feedback should be given face to face. One said, “I would have found it more helpful to be able to read a peer’s paper, have time to determine my feedback for it, and then have allotted time to meet with the writer to discuss the feedback.” Another suggested critiquing in small groups. I will think about this for next time as well. The advantage would be less marking (should we not get the software) and it would mean that the students would have to take ownership of their feedback. It would also give the writers an opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification as needed. I am not sure how marks for the feedback would be given unless the writers themselves gave the marks for the feedback they received. I will have to mull that one over that a bit more.
As I mentioned in my last posting, a few students felt insecure about giving feedback when they thought they were not terrific writers themselves. I countered with, “But writers write for readers. You are half the equation. Who better than you to say what would make that experience easier or more meaningful?” I will make sure I bring this up and address it in the CPR feedback class next year.
So overall, I would definitely do this again. One advantage for this for next year is that the students who will be my 2nd year students next year will have used Calibrated Peer Review in first year in semester one. They (and I) will be familiar with the process and we will not have that hill to climb. I believe that once we have peer feedback worked into the curriculum as an expectation, it will be a given. It is certainly a given for our own yearly registration once we become nurses, so it makes absolute sense that we begin the process now. I will think about face to face or group feedback (should we not get the software), and will work more about writing papers into my classes. If we do get the software, it will free me up to seek out and work with more student’s one on one as very few came to see me with issues about their writing. I am somewhat conflicted about this as they are supposed to take responsibility for their own learning, but the bottom line is that I want them to be successful and if I have more time to give them individual help to ensure that happens, I would like to take advantage of that. I had them include a rubric they had marked for their own papers but not write about it in their reflections on the process. Next time I would like to include something about what, if anything, they learned from marking their own papers after the fact. Some included this in their reflections, but not many.
This concludes my reflections on our version of Calibrated Peer Review. I hope that those of you who are considering trying this method of evaluation in your courses will give it a try. I believe both the students and I had some excellent learning from this process. I also believe that it will help to make them better writers and enhance their abilities to give feedback. I thank Liesel for her help and guidance in my CPR journey. Barbara