Peer critique for presentations
Feedback can come from instructors and from peers.
Advantages of Peer Critique of Presentations
- When presenters hear the same feedback from more than one student, they’re likely to pay attention to the feedback.
- Students learn from seeing their peers present and reflecting on what works and what doesn’t
- Students become more active listeners if they need to give feedback
- If students put their names on the feedback forms and you collect the forms, you can use them as a record of attendance.
Steven Kleiman of M.I.T. reports on his experience with peer critiques here.
Guiding Peer Critique
Students rarely give harsh feedback. If anything, some students may err on the side of giving vacuous feedback for fear of being too harsh.
- To ensure that feedback is constructive you might solicit only specific positive feedback for the first round of presentations and then, in the second round of presentations, also ask for specific constructive criticism.
- Monitor the feedback and give guidance as needed, particularly for the first few rounds of critique.
- If you yourself give collegial feedback to the students, your feedback will act as a model that develops a collegial atmosphere in the class.
- Guide students by providing a model, form, or rubric, like those below under “Forms of peer critique.”
- MIT’s Writing Across the Curriculum has created a video about peer critique for students
Forms of peer critique
Peer feedback can take a variety of forms
- A free-form note from the student, such as those written by students of Steven Kleiman (see particularly the model at the end of the page).
- A form with a few questions to guide critique, such as
- What most helped you to understand the content?
- What suggestions do you have for the presenter(s) for future presentations?
The following examples of feedback forms range from simple to detailed. Most are intended to be used to hand-write feedback during the presentation and to be collected at the end of the presentation.
- A simple form that includes some self-reflection
- A slightly more detailed form with a focus on the pedagogical success of the presentation, written by Olivier Bernardi for his Undergraduate Seminar in Discrete Mathematics.
- A more detailed form, based on a list of characteristics of effective presentations created by the students, from Pedro Reis’ Seminar in Applied Physical Mathematics.
- A template and model critique for students to use as they write up their feedback after class.
The more detailed the checklist or rubric you use, the more difficult it will be for students to pay attention and note feedback at the same time. In any case, students will need at least a few minutes to finish writing their feedback at the end of class.
Questions to Consider
- Do you want the feedback to go immediately to the student presenter or would you like to see it first? Presenters appreciate prompt feedback, so if you want a copy too, consider inviting the student to come with you to the copy machine immediately after class.
- Would you like the critiques to be anonymous? Students seem to give good feedback either way.