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Managing a student-authored wiki textbook is a big job. Students need to choose topics to write on, so that each topic is covered and none is done by “too many” students. Sometimes it’s good to have students work in teams, so that they can undertake larger pieces of the project. The instructor rarely has time to provide formative feedback for each piece, so it’s good to have students peer-review each other’s contributions. And the various pieces of the textbook may have different deadlines, as the class progresses through different parts of the syllabus.
That’s why I believe that specialized review software is the only scalable way to manage a large writing project. Our Expertiza system lets the instructor focus on the content, not on the mechanics of project management. First, the instructor sets up a “signup sheet,” listing the topics to be covered and the number of students (or teams) who are allowed to select each topic. Then the students write on their topic, and submit their file, or the URL of their wiki page. Other students serve as reviewers, choosing the topic(s) on which they want to review. The system presents them with a link to the submission and a rubric that they will fill out to evaluate it.
After receiving comments from their reviewers, the authors can be given an opportunity to revise their work. They can also give feedback to, or ask questions of, the reviewers. Reviewers and authors can communicate in a double-blind conversation as often as desired. Afterwards, the reviewers have another chance to review the work, and suggest a final grade, based on scores they assign to each area covered by the rubric. The instructor has the responsibility of assigning the grade, of course, and may use the reviewers’ scores or override them.
One of the most interesting uses of the system is for team assignments. Students can choose their own teams, or the instructors can assign them. All members of the team can submit on behalf of their team, and all members can view feedback from the reviewers. Individuals review teams, which allows teams to receive more feedback. For example, if two-member teams are used, and each individual reviews three submissions, each team’s work will receive about six reviews.
If you are interested in learning more about how the process works, view a recent paper on the subject or visit our Web site. You can comment on the project or contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. About 25 instructors have used our software so far, and we are looking forward to having others adopt it in the fall!
The Expertiza project is funded by the National Science Foundation under grant 0942279. It has also received a Google Research Award.
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