A presentation from the STEM Annual Conference 2014.
PeerWise is a collaborative online learning tool that encourages student engagement with both their course material and with their peers. Student activity is focused on constructing answering and discussing multiple choice questions pertaining to course content. Using amassed data from three iterations of a large undergraduate genetics class we have recently established that academic benefits are consistently associated with effective use of PeerWise year on year and are not limited to adeptness with multiple choice questions but extend to seemingly unrelated tasks such as exam essay and course-work performance. Moreover we have also established that the facilities inherent in the tool to measure quality of work do provide reliable measures of standard that justify awarding assessment marks based on scores produced by the tool. We also found that additional extra support was not necessary since “coached” students did not perform significantly better either in the quality of their PeerWise questions nor on the course overall.
Taken together our results commend PeerWise as a simple and effective way to boost the learning strategies and therefore the learning outcomes for Biology students with minimal instructor intervention. However how do students view PeerWise? Is it just another burdensome task to be completed or do they recognise and appreciate the benefits?
With reference to feedback results comments and actions from our students within and beyond our study we highlight some student highs and lows of PeerWise use and suggest a mutually approved strategy for its deployment based on our accumulated experience.