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Online peer feedback as class preparation

Subject: Bachelor’s supplementary subject in classical studies. Course: Cultural History of Antiquity. Study level: Bachelor's degree, third semester. Size of class: Approx. 10.

Short description

The activity

In the feedback activities, the students must work with ideas for their individual projects that complete the course. The students’ work is read by the teacher and fellow students, who give feedback on the basis of the criteria for feedback defined by the teacher.

The course

In the evaluation of the exam performance, emphasis is placed on the extent to which the student:

  • documents in-depth knowledge of the topic studied and how it was viewed in antiquity
  • selects independently a problem to be explored, searches for and assesses relevant source material (both written and material sources), uses the modern literature on the subject critically and organises the material
  • accounts for and analyses the selected problem by means of clearly defined methods and theories (both for the specific subject and applying to other subjects too)
  • is familiar with the relevant literature on the subject
  • is able to prepare a written assignment on the selected topic.

Teacher's motivation

The activity was chosen to support the type of exam, which is a written take-home assignment on a topic of the student’s choice. At the same time, the activity can incorporate the continuous development of the students’ written projects in the classroom teaching. In this way, both teaching activities and individual projects may benefit.

Description of the activity

The activity prepares the students for an individual project, but also for face-to-face teaching in the classroom.

The teacher prepares a description of tasks for the weekly face-to-face teaching; this involves that each student must write a short text and then give feedback on two texts written by fellow students. The task description is written in a online document, and the teacher must make sure all students have editing rights. This means that the students can complete the task and give feedback to each other in the same document. The teacher creates web links for the weekly online documents in the course in Blackboard (Attention: Brightspace is now used) so that the students can easily find and access them (see picture 1 below).

Below the instruction in each online document (see picture 2 below), a table has been created with boxes for the students’ texts and feedback comments. The students are instructed to write their names in the boxes where they write their text and peer feedback. Picture 3 below shows an excerpt from the online document where the students wrote their texts and gave feedback in week 36.

The manuscript for the collaboration process, i.e. collaboration script, which is used each week in the course, has the following structure:

Collaboration Script

In preparation for class each week:

  1. Write a text in a textbox in the online document. Remember to write your name in the green box
  2. Give feedback in a blue textbox on two of the other participants’ texts as a minimum. Remember to write your name in the blue box. One of the students must be the student whose name is just below yours in the list. You are free to choose the second student.

Outcome of the activity

Preparation for the students to work with their own project, but also a chance to practice seeing the connections between their own project topic and those of fellow students. Good discussions are created in class because the students know about each other’s project topics. The effect of writing text with academic content each week was that the students performed well at the exam. Some students demonstrated clearly in their exam assignments that they had been positively inspired by the other texts and topics.

Worth considering

Consider the volume of activities during the course. After this testing round I recommend that the number of activities is reduced so that they do not take place every week, in consideration of the teacher’s workload, but also that of the students.

If more than ten students participate, it is a good idea to divide them into groups, each with their own online document, in which their peer feedback activities take place.


    Examples of practice

      Basic information

      • Faculty: Arts
      • Degree Programme: Bachelor’s supplementary subject in classical studies
      • Course: Cultural History of Antiquity
      • Study level: Bachelor's degree, 3. semester
      • Course size: Approx. 10
      • Teaching method: Small class teaching
      • Extent: Activity
      • Primary type of activity: Discussion, Collaboration
      • Applied technology: Online co-authoring tool e.g. Word Online
      • How the case was conduted: Campus teaching with the use of digital tools for learning

      The example of practice was created by Camilla Horster, former employee at Aarhus University, og edited by the editorial staff at AU Educate.