My Reviewers is a web-based application that enables teachers and students to use rubrics and commenting tools to review and grade student writing. By employing social media features and by aggregating assessment results in innovative new ways, My Reviewers reshapes how teachers respond to writing, how students conduct peer review, how students track their development as writers and reader feedback, and how universities assess the development of research, writing, and critical thinking skills.
My Reviewers is designed to improve students’ writing, research, critical thinking, and collaborative abilities by facilitating teachers’ grading and markup of papers as well as students’ reviews of peers’ documents. Like a portfolio tool, My Reviewers provides an archive of student writing, yet unlike traditional portfolio tools it aggregates teacher and peer feedback, thereby enabling students, teachers, and universities to track student progress. By providing reports in real time, My Reviewers closes the assessment loop, collapsing summative evaluations with formative evaluations, enabling universities to alter coursework to meet students’ needs during the semester.
My Reviewers is founded on the assumption that language and learning are social practices, that students can provide valuable feedback to one another based on their backgrounds as readers and critical thinkers.
For students, My Reviewers provides
- Increased clarity regarding teachers’ expectations
- A quick way to provide and receive peer reviews (the tool organizes papers, comments, and rubric scores in a database; at a glance students can view all reviews of a particular text)
- A faster way to receive feedback from faculty and peers (no longer, e.g., at the end of the semester do teachers worry that students will even get their feedback!)
- An archive of feedback from instructors and peers (for students this archive can include all university work)
- Focused resources on improving student writing (students can follow hyperlinks on their instructor’s or peer’s markup to specific advice on improving their draft and writing)
For teachers, My Reviewers provides
- A time-saving way to mark-up, grade and archive student texts
- Confidence that their grades are equivalent to the grades of other teachers who are teaching the same course
- Guidelines that help them provide more objective grades
- An easy way to view and grade students’ peer reviews (the tool enables teachers to set up groups and it aggregates all students’ comments and scores as opposed to requiring instructors to riffle through tons of papers looking for students’ reviews)
- An innovative way to crowd source helpful comments with other instructors
- Focused resources that teachers can share with students to help improve student writing
For WPAs (writing program administrators) and accreditation agencies (SACS, etc.), My Reviewers provides
- A way to close the assessment loop: instructors and administrators can use My Reviewers to identify trends as they happen in instructor/peer feedback and student development, which enables institutions to revise curricular materials to better meet student needs.
- A way to gather comprehensive assessment data for all students rather than a small sample.
- Aggregate all of the teachers’ narrative feedback to highlight student writing, critical thinking, and research challenges
- Aggregate quantitative data from all instructors. For example, assessors can track student development longitudinally by noting changes to specific rubric criteria such as critical thinking over time.
- A way to research the efficacy of distinct pedagogical approaches (e.g., a heavy conferencing model, a totally online model, a hybrid model)
- A way to demonstrate student success
For researchers, My Reviewers provides
- A digital archive of all of the major projects completed by students in ENC 1101 and ENC 1102
- A digital archive of teachers’ and peers’ narrative comments as well as their quantitative rankings of texts
As a result of this development work, I’ve been deeply involved in a variety of assessment research projects. I find this deeply surprisingly given my lifetime focus on writing processes. Frankly, by now I thought I’d be back to fiction writing but instead I find myself more and more involved in assessment research.