Since November I have been using the iPads with tutors and students from Initial Teacher Education to facilitate a peer review and feedback process used on a second year science module.
The students studying this module are divided in to five teaching groups with each group further split into five sub-groups of 6 students. Throughout the delivery of this module, each student sub-group is asked to participate in the following learning activities:
- A 10 minute science related assembly – a presentation to the remainder of the teaching group that would be suitable for a specified age-range in a primary school.
- A 30 minute ‘mini’ science lesson with the remainder of the teaching group as participants
- An interactive science display for a primary classroom on a given topic (for example, the human body)
Each sub-group was required to produce a rationale for their activities justifying the theoretical and pedagogical underpinning. The discussions, peer review and self-reflection at the end of the activities are designed to evaluate how successful the students feel they were in achieving their aims and what further steps they might take towards improvement.
The diagram below illustrates the peer review and feedback process:
The iPads were used by students to facilitate and improve the quality of feedback and the overall feedback process through the use of Notability and e-Clicker.
The students used Notability (a note taking app) to provide electronic peer feedback on each groups science display. The app allows the students to take a picture of each display and provide detailed comments and feedback (typed or handwritten) about the display by annotating the picture. What the students particularly liked about this was the ability to annotate and highlight certain areas of the display. Here is what one of the students said in the initial evaluation survey:
‘It was easy to give feedback when annotating a picture. You can draw an arrow to exactly what you want to talk about and people can see what you are referring to. This also makes the feedback more concise and to the point. Giving feedback in this way allows each individual to offer their own opinions and to analyse the display, rather than using a ranking system that is very closed.’
Once all the feedback was recorded the students used the Dropbox feature within Notability to upload the feedback document to a dedicated folder in Dropbox. The Dropbox account was setup prior to the class by the project lead and the details of the account were shared with students during the hands-on workshop. We found that preparing the iPads by logging into Dropbox prior to the sessions meant there was less confusion for the students when they were submitting their feedback.
One positive aspect regarding the use of Notability was the improvement in the quality of feedback that was produce by the students. Initially when the students first started using Notability the feedback was quite superficial and not particularly helpful to the group that had created the display.
This made the students realise that the type of feedback that they were providing was important and that they should provide the type of feedback that they themselves would like to receive. It was also evident that the quality of feedback improved once the students gained confidence in using the iPads and the Notability software.
Here is an example of feedback provided by one of the students on the science:To provide feedback on the science lessons and assemblies the students used an app called e-Clicker Presenter. Previously, the students had provided feedback on lessons and assemblies by writing on a piece of paper two things they liked about the session and one suggestion for improvement (2 stars and a wish).
The e-Clicker app allowed students to provide instant feedback straight after the session (assembly or lesson) had been delivered.
The e-Clicker app has two parts: Presenter and Audience. The tutor uses the Presenter app to create and deliver the questions and the students use the Audience app to answer them. It meant that the students could provide an honest and anonymous critique of the session.
The feedback was then used in the discussion at the end of the session between the tutor and students as part of the formative assessment process. One downside to using the e-Clicker solution was that it does not allow the students to provide written answers to questions; just the creation of multiple choice questions. This was particularly frustrating when the groups received more negative feedback after their session. They all felt that with no justification for why they received this feedback and there was no guidance for improvement in the future.
Overall, the use of iPads to facilitate the process of peer feedback has been well received by the students. In the next blog post I will discuss how this activity is evolving.