a powerful collaboration tool
for student teams
to develop career-ready team skills
Download our PeerAssessment.com Brochure
For three decades I’ve beeen facilitating and researching teams, while teaching IT with student teams at Boise State. I strongly believe that collaborative learning is one of the most powerful pedagogies available for college students.
Too frequently, however, team dynamics poison the experience. Peer Assessments could overcome the problems if students could learn from the feedback, but manually reassembling that data into individual reports takes too much time. That experience led me to design PeerAssessment.Com, helping students to grow their team skills while it cut my workload.
PeerAssessment.Com improves student team success in three ways by supporting:
PeerAssessment.Com is peer assessment done right: it automates the peer assessment process, making it easier to hold more frequent peer assessments that return real feedback to students so they can improve their team skills. Prepare a peer assessment for your entire class in under 5 minutes. Then PeerAssessment.Com takes care of the rest; collecting and distributing the feedback to students, plus preparing a grading sheet for you.
Please give PeerAssessment.Com a try, and unlock the potential of your student learning teams. Simply Sign In and Register an account, and receive a free class trial. Or contact me directly, I look forward to working with you.
"The best tool out there to understand how a team is working." ~Dr. Saurabh Gupta, Associate Professor of Information Systems, Kennesaw State University
(including Educational Institutions and Non-Profits)
Pricing is by the class section, with significant savings for larger quantities or smaller classes. Classes are easily shared among instructors. Also, they do not expire, so when you run out, simply use Refill to add more.
The Price List took effect on May 20, 2019. The new pricing will include:
PeerAssessment.Com is a product of Hot Rocks Consulting L.L.C., owned by Rob Anson. It was designed by Rob Anson and developed by Aaron Day at Thrive Web Design, in Boise Idaho. This tool would be no more than a bygone dream were it not for Aaron’s artistic and technical genius, let alone his infinite patience.
Dr. Rob Anson has three decades of facilitating and training groups as a consultant as well as a researcher. He just completed 27 years of teaching at Boise State University in Management Information Systems in the College of Business and Economics. While teaching technical topics and capstone project courses, student teams have usually been at the core of his approach. Rob’s background includes extensive consulting and research as a team meeting facilitator, using computerized and traditional techniques to assist hundreds of teams from business, government and nonprofit sectors.
Anson has consulted widely with various groups particularly in the areas of business process modeling, and project management, and has supported or led the implementation of eight campus-wide information systems at Boise State. He has published articles in journals such as Management Science, Journal of Small Group Research, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, Journal of Educational Computing, and International Journal of Management Education. In addition to his faculty responsibilities at Boise State, Dr. Anson is proud to have served as the first Faculty Ombuds and the first Residential College Faculty in Residence.
PeerAssessment.Com Version 1.0 was hatched in 2009 as a Qualtrics – MS Access prototype, born out of frustration with paper-based peer assessments. In 2011, it was used to design Version 2.0 (nicknamed “PAS”)–a free, fully online version adopted by a growing number of instructors in various disciplines at Boise State and around the country. It became a mainstay for accreditation of programs within Nursing and Business, documenting learning outcomes related to team-skills.
In 2018, Version 3.0 represents a complete rewrite from the ground up. It was able to take advantage of numerous technology advancements to become fully mobile (for student aspects) and accessible. The new design added numerous new features to enhance efficiency for the instructor, provide needed flexibility to customize questions, add functionality to enable multiple instructors and campus-wide administration, plus it established a platform that could be easily and quickly extended.
Instructional and Research Resources
These resources are intended to assist you with using PeerAssessment.Com, improving the student teamwork in your classes generally, and/or conducting Science of Teaching and Learning research.
I invite you to send me resources you use in your classes to post here and share with others. Where you borrow items from others, please include the source so that credit is appropriately expressed, and others can follow up for more information.
PeerAssessment.Com Brochure–2 Pages (PDF, 1/10/2020) The brochure summarizes the key features and benefits of PeerAssessment.Com. It is in a front/back trifold format. For more information, please see the whitepapers on particular areas of the application and articles about its use on this page.
ONLINE ASSISTANCE: Please log in to PeerAssessment.Com and select HELP in the upper right corner.
DIRECT ASSISTANCE: You are welcome to contact me at any time for assistance with PeerAssessment.Com or its integration into your course pedagogy. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (208) 869-2801
Question Library (Page Link, Updated 7/1/2019) There are a number of Question Sets that are ready for you to use. This page lists the available options, including the full set of questions, introduction, and citations.
Instructor and Student Views of the Questionnaire (PDF 9/22/2018) The purpose of this document is to help you, the instructor, map what you see during set-up to what your student’s will see filling out the assessment.
PeerAssessmentCom Class Purchasing Instructions(PDF, 7/25/2019) These instructions will walk you through purchasing class units for PeerAssessment.Com. The purchasing procedure can be done by either the instructor her/himself, or by another person on their behalf. In either case the purchaser will need to create an account in the system. After completing the purchase, please forward the program information to instructors who will need it to set up classes.
Feedback is the core of a peer assessment–in the workplace as well as for educational teams. Constructive feedback, delivered with respect, can generate engagement and turn around an individual’s work behaviors. Poorly delivered feedback can just as effectively do the opposite. It boils down to this: the more we can build our student’s ability to give constructive, respectful feedback to one another, the more they can add to our education community and to their own careers.
To that end, this section includes various resources to learn about high quality feedback. Also, check out the Feedback Assessment Report, in PeerAssessment.Com, to assist you in evaluating the peer feedback your students give to one another.
Anson, R (2020, PDF or DOCX). Tips for Giving Feedback to Your Peers. Whitepaper.
Description: This is a brief whitepaper written for students involved in educational team work who are asked to give feedback to their peers. It draws together best practices from various authors to help students recognize and author effective feedback for others.
You are welcome to distribute this whitepaper to your students. Or, feel free to download the .DOCX version and adapt it to your needs under your own name.
Access Link: How to Give Feedback the Right Way
Link to Summary Poster: How to construct meaningful feedback: C.O.I.N.
Impraise. (NA) How to give feedback the right way. Accessed on 1/24/20 from https://www.impraise.com/blog/how-to-give-feedback-the-right-way.
Description: This 5 minute read from Impraise is an excellent source for your students to learn a model for giving feedback! “Many people find giving constructive feedback daunting. If you remember to use the C.O.I.N formula, you can ensure you’re giving actionable, constructive feedback that will help your peers, manager or direct report improve their performance. You can use this Context – Observation – Impact – Next (C.O.I.N) formula to make both positive and constructive feedback more impactful, but since people find it more challenging to give constructive feedback, this is what we’re focusing on.”
PeerAssessment.Com Feedback Assessment Report (Includes actual student comments entered into PeerAssessment.Com, with names changed.)
The Feedback Assessment Report in PeerAssessment.Com captures responses to the open-ended questions–one Peer Assessment and three Team Assessment. All the responses that one student authored to their team and team members are displayed on one page. Within the PDF file, reports are sorted by author name.
This PDF report makes it easy to read and evaluate the feedback authored by each student. It can be used to assess and guide students to provide higher quality feedback to their team members.
A couple ideas for providing grades and/or feedback to students:
Download: The Power of Feedback
Abstract from The Power of Feedback:
“Feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement, but this impact can be either positive or negative. Its power is frequently mentioned in articles about learning and teaching, but surprisingly few recent studies have systematically investigated its meaning. This article provides a conceptual analysis of feedback and reviews the evidence related to its impact on learning and achievement. This evidence shows that although feedback is among t he major influences, the type of feedback and the way it is given can be differentially effective. A model of feedback is then proposed that identifies the particular properties and circumstances that make it effective, and some typically thorny issues are discussed, including the timing of feedback and the effects of positive and negative feedback. Finally, this analysis is used to suggest ways in which feedback can be used to enhance its effectiveness in classrooms.”
Citation: Impraise. (NA) How Atlassian built an award winning culture using feedback. Accessed on 1/24/2020 from https://www.impraise.com/blog/how-atlassian-built-an-award-winning-culture-using-feedback
Description: Atlassian has built a thriving, award-winning, corporate culture using feedback as a cornerstone that we can learn from in our classroom. This 10 minute read talks about the foundations for a corporate culture of feedback. Atlassian believes that “peer reviews are an integral part of getting the whole picture when it comes to employee performance. […] When you involve your colleagues in your performance evaluation you cut through the competitiveness and elevate collaboration. This approach focuses on development, and strengthens the team.”
Teamwork is tough enough in the best of circumstances. It is even harder when adding challenges students face in teams–simultaneously learning content, figuring out your instructor and team members, plus (often) no team member has authority and experience to sort it all out. Then imagine trying to pull your team together remotely. You can’t look them in the eye, shake their hand, or buy them a beer to work it out. And don’t get me started about factoring in Covid-19!
Fortunately, a few weeks back an email from Trello dropped in my inbox. Trello markets a fantastic, flexible tool for teams to manage their project work–teams in my senior projects class have used it for years. Both Trello, and their parent Atlassian, have extensive experience with remote teams–creating tools to support them, and using them internally. They leveraged this experience, together with other companies known for innovative remote teams, to create a free online guide called “How to Embrace Remote Work: The Complete Guide to Setting Up Your Team for Remote Work Success“. The actionable advice, while directed at teams in the business world, applies as well to student teams in an educational setting.
My goal here is to make this information even more relevant, and digestible, for you and your student teams to access. I cooked Trello’s Remote Team Work Guide down even further, pulling excerpts and adding some further material. Then I collated and edited the excerpts to focus it, in an abbreviated fashion, on topics student teams need to master in order to work remotely.
Download Remote Student Teams section in single document — Feel free to use this distilled guide in whole or in part. But please make sure to give credit to Trello for making the original guide available. *
The topics include:
* I am not affiliated with Trello or Atlassian in any way. I am only a grateful customer.
Your team needs to pick a few basic tools for team collaboration, and set up some explicit guidelines for using them. Everyone on the team needs to use the same tool set, or there is a real chance they could self destruct. (Note: I’ve resorted the list below in order of priority for student teams.)
Google Docs has some great collaboration features for group writing. But what we need is a plan for our team to use those features harmoniously. This brief reviews the features, and lays out a plan for your group to use them productively.
I’ll assume you know how to use Google Docs. But if you’d like to brush up, under Sources below, there are links to good 10-15 minute videos on Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. All three tools include exactly the same collaboration features; I’ll refer to Docs in this article, but the collaboration features and plan apply to all three.
The collaboration features we’ll discuss include: Shared Drive, Comments, Recommend Edits, and Version History. Summary of Collaboration Features in Google Docs And there are links to articles on each under Sources.
To make this easier to relate to, lets say your team was assigned a two week research project report working in person. Actually though you could easily tweak this plan for any group project even if it was 16 weeks in length, a presentation or a design document, or done remotely in a virtual team using Zoom (or some other video conference tool) with a pandemic raging around.
The group writing plan includes 6 steps. Longer projects may iterate steps 3-5 a few times, and projects with more non-writing work may need a more detailed task plan, but here is the basic idea.
1. Set Up: Share Documents & Files [individual team member]
2. Plan Content: Outline Report & Assign Tasks [team meeting]
3. Write Draft [individual members]
4. Review Draft [individual members]
5. Proofread and Check Document [team meeting]
6. Finalize Document [1-2 team members]
1. Set Up: Share Documents & Files [individual team member]
You could share individual documents, but that is a lot of extra work and less effective. Instead, create a Shared Drive for all your team’s files, and give your team members access. In the Shared Drive, create all your Google files, drag & drop other files (eg. PDFs, Word, JPG, etc.), and add folders as needed. The point is that all files are automatically shared with the group.
2. Plan Content: Outline Report & Assign Tasks [team meeting]
A little time planning will save a ton of time working. So meet together, and here is your agenda. I strongly recommend your team asks one member to facilitate the agenda and discussion, enabling everyone to have input. And one person will be the recorder, to capture the plan. Here is what you will do:
3. Write Draft [individual members]
Most of the draft writing (and other work) will be done working separately. Just a few guidelines will keep this smooth and productive:
4. Review Draft [individual members]
Reviewing is the most critical step, especially writing in groups. Writing separately can get a lot done quickly, but it also introduces a lot of rework issues for content and form. The purpose of reviewing is to create a final report with quality content (accurately communicate your ideas/research, logically develop arguments, address the assignment requirements) and quality form (correct grammar, spelling and punctuation, good flow and word choice).
Review needs to go on throughout the writing process, but the type of review changes. At this stage, early-mid process, you should focus 90% on reviewing content; don’t waste time perfecting the form until ideas are well setup. That said, writing styles and skills often vary widely such that some (10% ?) attention to form will inevitable.
This review requires giving team members time to concentrate. Each will individually read and mark-up the document, placing attention on content suggestions. Two Google Docs features are used for mark-up, Comments and Recommended Edits.
5. Decide Revisions [team meeting]
When there are a a number of content suggestions–Comments–it is time for a team meeting. Discussion is needed to decide on the content suggestions, and how to address them in the text. To aid the discussion, everyone can open the document, but one person should share their screen and record revisions from the conversation. It is a good idea to ask one member to facilitate the discussion, helping all members express their ideas while encouraging the team to make decisions they can live with, then move on.
6. Proofread and Check Document [2 team members]
Proofreading and checking the final copy should be done by two strong writers. Finalizing the document includes a few things done by one or two strong writers.
When the document form is clean, you are ready to submit. Pay attention to the instructor’s submission instructions. You can use FILE > Download to create a final file in the correct format for the instructor (eg. PDF, Word, Powerpoint, etc.)
* Oops… Fixing Issues: Version History
What should you do if a team member accidentally deletes or changes important passages of the document? Don’t panic! Use Version History.
Open the FILE menu and select Version History > See Version History. This will list all changes and who made them, by time of the change. Scroll down to select the version just before the deletion/change, then do one of three things.
There are so many ways to communicate at work that it’s overwhelming. Every day, I find myself asking the same question: should I email, instant message, phone, video, or text this information? It’s a mundane question, but it’s important. Because if you don’t choose the right mode of communication, you’ll be ignored, misunderstood, put on the back burner, or dismissed with a vague, insufficient response.
The tools below are listed from most to least communication bandwidth. Video, second only to face to face, has the largest bandwidth to simultaneously convey our words, tone of voice, gestures, expressions and full array of non-verbal information. That bandwidth allows us to express our meaning in multiple ways to ensure we are correctly understood. Consequently, when using tools with less bandwidth–phone, text, and email–there is a greater chance we will be misunderstood.
If you aren’t that familiar with the additional expectations placed upon you in a video meeting, that’s okay. We’re here to help you learn the dos and don’ts of video meetings. Take the following information into consideration so you don’t find yourself committing a major faux pas at your next team meeting. Or, share this with a coworker to help them out the next time they’re making one of these mistakes.
How often are your meetings productive? Be honest. Between meeting attendees arriving late and your coworker loudly typing an email at the other end of the conference table, it can be hard to stay focused. If you’re holding a video meeting, it can be even more challenging to manage your time effectively.
People are more likely to multitask and miss a point if they don’t have someone next to them to hold them accountable. It’s harder to communicate deadlines and deliverables, and technical problems can stop those attending remotely from hearing or seeing everything in the meeting room. According to the online collaboration company Wrike, 46% of those surveyed answered “rarely”, “never”, or “some of the time” when asked if they leave meetings knowing what the next action item is.
An asynchronous meeting is one where the participants are not all meeting at the same time. Instead of, say, 4 hours meeting face to face or remotely via video, we can meet over a one week period where people come and go. This overcomes important scheduling obstacles. But in turn it opens up more challenging coordination issues.
As with any meeting, you still need time frames, goals, agendas, and rules. But for an asynchronous meeting, you need to take them a bit further:
The following articles discuss some of the art and science of facilitating asynchronous meetings. Because the tools play a much greater role in this arena, tool capabilities tend to become integrated with the facilitation.
Some people are wary of remote teams because they fear a lack of team camaraderie. It’s true that there are no silly interactions in the kitchen or casual hallway “stop and chats” on remote teams. However, with effective planning, these social moments can be baked into a remote dynamic. Talking with people in dozens of remote teams confirms that you really can create a strong remove team culture. There are two things you need to do.
First, establish a clear set of norms or “rules to live by” with 100% buy-in across the group. Here are a few good ones to consider.
Second, keep people communicating through a healthy system of meetings, events, and habits. Here are 3 types of social interactions that can help overcome some of the distance created by virtual environments. These are for peer to peer, team to instructor, and instructor to class.
Even video conferencing, which allows you to pick up on facial expressions and some body language (which constitutes 55% of communication), has its limitations. When the person you’re talking to is a two-inch-tall disembodied head that magically transforms into a buffering wheel every 15 seconds, deciphering facial expressions and body language can be a challenge.
But remote meetings don’t have to be that awkward. Building rapport and understanding helps fill in the communication gaps during those technologically-challenging moments. Here are five quick icebreakers to help your team kick off your next remote meeting on the same page.
There are many other resources available related to remote teams. Below are a few practical effective articles and websites that I would like to point out in particular:
Citation: Anson, R. & Goodman, J. (2014) A Peer Assessment System to Improve Student Team Experiences, Journal of Education for Business, 89:1, 27-34, DOI: 10.1080/08832323.2012.754735
Citation: Anson, R., Poole, S., & Fairbanks, A. (2020, February) Developing Nursing Student Communication and Teamwork Skills: Automating Peer Assessment. RN Idaho, 42(4), 15. Retrieved from https://s3.amazonaws.com/nursing-network/production/attachments/242818/original/RN_Idaho_FEB_2020.pdf?2020
Description: This article examines the key role played by communication and teamwork in healthcare quality, and how peer assessments–using PeerAssessment.Com–can improve the teamwork skills of nursing students.
Citation: Brutus, S., & Donia, M. (2010). Improving the effectiveness of students in groups with a centralized peer evaluation system. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 9(4), 652-662.
Abstract: We describe the impact of a centralized electronic peer evaluation system on the group effectiveness of undergraduate business students over a pair of semesters. Using a quasi-experimental design, 389 undergraduate students evaluated, and were evaluated by, their peers using a web-based system that captures peer evaluations in quantitative and qualitative formats and allows for the reception of anonymous feedback. Results show that the effectiveness of students, as perceived by their peers, increased over semesters. This effect could be directly linked to the use of the system. The results of this study underscore the benefit of centralizing peer evaluations for the assessment of important skills and their development in higher education. The implication of these results and possible avenues of research are detailed.
Citation: Rush, D. E. & Connolly, A. J. (2020). An Agile Framework for Teaching with Scrum in the IT Project Management Classroom. Journal of Information Systems Education, 31(3), 196-207
Abstract: This paper presents a framework for teaching a complete, semester-long IT project management course with traditional PMI-based content (sans software development) while featuring Scrum as the organizing logic for accomplishing coursework. This framework adapts widely-used Scrum practices from industry for use in the classroom, including how to organize student teams, homework, and activities. Organizing an existing course with Scrum is intended to maximize student learning of traditional project management content, as well as the difficult-to-teach, socially-complex, “soft” skills that lead to Scrum team success. This deep integration of Scrum into a traditional, predictive IT project management course goes well beyond single activities or units without crowding out valuable time and material. A brief overview of the agile philosophy and examples of teaching Scrum in the classroom situate this work in the teaching and learning literature. Classroom-tested Scrum rituals and example artifacts are provided to illustrate how to apply the framework. This group-based, iterative, and hands-on approach equips students to better internalize and understand the complex social interactions involved with a self-organizing team, concepts that are difficult to learn without first-hand experience. The proposed framework will help IS educators implement Scrum practices in their own courses, further addressing industry’s
increasing demand for IS professionals with Scrum experience.
Download: Implementation Of Agile Project Management In The Classroom
Citation: Myers, M. J.(2016). Implementation Of Agile Project Management In The Classroom. (Master’s thesis). Retrieved from https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/etd/3953
Abstract: The world of engineering and engineering practices is advancing rapidly. In response to this rapid change, engineering education practices have to advance to ensure students are properly trained for the workforce. The purpose of this report is to address and substantiate the hypothesis that if engineering instruction incorporated Agile project management methods, then students will be challenged by professors to accomplish course objectives with a systematic and timely approach that will improve assessment performance metrics and present the framework of how agile methods of project management can be integrated into the classroom. The agile methods incorporated will also encourage the use of industry-related soft skills; emphasizing accountability, resourcefulness, team building, and interpersonal skills. From this framework, the idea that instructors have the ability to manage their students and accomplish course objectives in a timely manner, similar to the engineering industry practices, even when presented with impromptu absentees or cancellations, is plausible. The proposed method to substantiate this hypothesis was the implementation of a flipped classroom and using scrumban agile methods within a General and Honors classroom setting. Due to design and time limitations, only the Kanban Board was implemented into the Honors section for study. The results of the study showed the Honors section performance metrics decrease. With the limitations of the experiment, the hypothesis was rendered inconclusive. In moving forward, obstacles that were present (hurricane cancellations and guest instructors) are still believed to be mitigated with full experiment implementation
Citation: Viljan Mahni (2012). A Capstone Course on Agile Software Development Using Scrum. IEEE Transactions on Education, Vol. 55, No. 1, February 2012, p 99-106.
Abstract: In this paper, an undergraduate capstone course in software engineering is described that not only exposes students to agile software development, but also makes it possible to observe the behavior of developers using Scrum for the first time. The course requires students to work as Scrum Teams, responsible for the implementation of a set of user stories defined by a project domain expert playing the role of the Product Owner. During the course, data on project management activities are collected in order to analyze the amount of work completed, compliance with the release and iteration plans, productivity, ability in effort estimation, and the like. The paper discusses the achievement of teaching goals and provides empirical evaluation of students’ progress in estimation and planning skills. A summary of lessons learned and recommendations is given, reflecting the issues to be considered when teaching courses in agile software development. Surveys of students have shown that they were overwhelmingly positive about the course, indicating that the course fully met or even exceeded their expectations.
Download: Scrum Reference Card (print version)
Citation: Michael James and Luke Walter (2019). Scrum Reference Card. Seattle Scrum Company.
Abstract: This 6 pager is a surprisingly comprehensive and refreshingly brief description of all the major Scrum and Agile terms and concepts. It is broken down into the following sections (linked to online version):
Citation: May, J., York, J., and Lending, D. (2016) Play Ball: Bringing Scrum into the Classroom. Journal of Information Systems Education, Vol. 27(2) Spring 2016, 87-92.
Abstract: Scrum has become a widely-used framework for technology development in both private industry and the government. As a result, Information Systems recruiters and executives have recently been placing a focus on students with Scrum knowledge. Unfortunately, current System Analysis and Design textbooks provide cursory attention to Scrum. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to suggest a starting point for teaching Scrum at the university level by presenting a classroom exercise (Ball Game) that can be used as a means for learning Scrum in more detail. This tip accomplishes three things: (1) introduces students to Scrum concepts with an engaging and memorable exercise, (2) provides a means for teaching students about estimation, and (3) offers an approach that allows students to witness firsthand how self-organized teams inspect, adapt, and evolve