The Problems with Coursera's Peer Assessments

Audrey Watters, Hack Education, Aug 28, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Coursera plans to handle 'soft' courses, such as those in the humanities, using peer assessment. Research shows peer assessments result in reliable grading. But as noted here, "peer assessment in a class of thirty is very different than peer assessment in a class of several thousand." The account posted by Laura Gibbs is especially telling. "There is going to be a whole range of feedback, from the very zealous people who give feedback longer than the essay itself, to the grammar police (yes, they are everywhere), to the ill-informed grammar police, and on down to the 'good job!' people with their two-word comments, and finally the people who commented not in English or who offered incomprehensible comments that had been translated by Google Translate." Which just tells me that free-form 'pretend you are a teacher' peer feedback isn't going to work for MOOCs.

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