Calibrated Peer Review (CPR)

Calibrated Peer Review (CPR) is a program, for networked computers, that enables frequent writing assignments without any increase in instructor work. In fact, CPR can reduce the time an instructor now spends reading and assessing student writing. CPR offers instructors the choice of creating their own writing assignments or using the rapidly expanding assignment library. If you believe in constructivist learning, writing is the most important tool that you have. But if you have a class of 300 students, grading essays challenges even the true believer. Calibrated Peer Review (CPR)can be used in classes of any size. CPR is based on the model of peer review in science. The student reads a document, either on-line or hard copy, then writes about it. When the student has demonstrated competence as a reviewer, the program delivers three peer documents on for review. The student answers content and style questions and assigns scores. Finally, the student does a self-review. The student grade comes from writing and reviewing. Even though the program is only in its third year, approximately 100,000 students have used it. Although CPR was designed for use in large chemistry classes, experience has shown that it can serve in many other disciplines, as well. Currently, business, chemistry, economics, English, and life science instructors are using CPR in college, graduate and professional, high schools and middle schools. CPR was developed in the Chemistry Department at U.C.L.A. with funding provided by the National Science Foundation and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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Author Name: 
Orville Chapman
Technical Requirements: 
Java-enabled web browswer
Content Quality Concerns: 
Because the peer review process is fairly complex conceptually, some instruction in the process itself may be needed in order for the CPR interface to be easily intelligible to students. The content of the sample assignments varies, but the CPT Tour is excellent.
Content Quality Strengths: 
CPR is most basically an online work environment, and as such enables adaptation to individual instructors' needs and philosophies. At the same time, it effectively automates in large part the peer review process, and in so doing has the potential to actually save time and work for instructors while also providing students with valuable responsibilities and experiences as reviewers and authors. The Calibrated Peer Review software is unique and innovative. CPR enables frequent student writing in most any discipline and level without overloading the instructor because once the assignment is created the students and the CPR software do all the work. The fact that it is free online for any instructor to use in a class is very strong feature. The CPR process consists of three stages: Stage 1: Text Entry Stage, Stage 2: Calibration and Review Stage, and Stage 3: Results Stage. The content and criteria for a writing assignment is crafted by the instructor, but the software offers opportunities for students to write a response to the questions or assignment posed, review model responses (this is the calibration part), review and evaluate the writing of others, and thenself-assess their original essay. The iterative nature of this process promotes metacognitive thinking about the content and the structure of one's own writing in response to the original assignment.
Ease of Use Concerns: 
As previously stated, our only concern is that it is very difficult for a computer interface to replicate a very complex process such as peer review;some supplementary conceptual instruction may be necessary. It may be a difficult tool for some learners with disabilities to use, especially because of the text intensive nature of the interface.
Ease of Use Strengths: 
CPR's strengths in this regard are that it very carefully disaggregates the process of peer review into step-by step procedures, and maintains consistency across the interface (e.g., the steps for entering an assignment are similar in kind to the steps for entering a review text, etc.). The course management and authoring tools for CPR work well and offer many features. CPR uses a SQL database to store account information The class list feature displays names, student IDs, CPR usernames, and e-mail addresses. Instructors can export the class list using the download tool. Administrators can enter and edit the e-mail address. While CPR collects information about users during their new user registration process, CPR does not reveal any personal information that users provide to us to any third party. Several help documents are available,including a handout for students about CPR, and there is place to report bugs and read FAQs.
Potential Effectiveness Concerns: 
It takes time and thoughtful planing for any instructor to generate a good assignment and students also need time to work through the various steps in the CPR process. This is not a single assignment, but a multi-step project. For some faculty, the interface may be daunting. However, for those familiar with computers, we think it is intuitive and well-designed. The explanatory and support documents on the CPR website are good, and the value of getting accustomed to the interface would seem to outweigh learning curve issues even for novice computer users.
Potential Effectiveness Strengths: 
CPR is very flexible and its use is limited only by an instructor's imagination and expertise in developing good questions and assignments. Extensive feedback in the assessment of the calibrations clarifies students' understanding of the issues and corrects any misconceptions that they might have. Assignment possibilities include abstracts, proposals, micro-themes, position papers,analyses, descriptions, ethics, and policy issues. The student tour that gives an overview of a CPR assignment and explains how to complete each stage using the updated student interface is invaluable. Instructors can create their own assignments or use others in the growing database of writing assignments submitted buy other instructors. In well-chosen assignments, students encounter engaging ideas and ponder important issues. The instructor generates both content and style questions to focus students on the essential issues in the source material. Students can also develop higher-level thinking skills such as abstracting, persuading (proposals), developing arguments, describing, assessing, criticizing, analyzing, and reviewing. Although CPR stems from a science-based model, CPR is discipline independent and level independent. When children first begin to write a paragraph, they can use CPR profitably, and yet the same program serves college and university students as well as graduate and professional students. In our view CPR constitutes an environment that actually *does* some teaching. For example, instructors and students can learn the process and value of peer review by using CPR.
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Source Code Available: 
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Resource Type: 
Free for Nonprofits
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