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Topic: Using Peer Review in ASL Classes

Question:  An online ASL teacher asks:   "I am curious on your thoughts about having students do peer review feedback assignments for ASL 2.  Is peer review too much to expect at that level or does it seem appropriate?

I think that too often ASL 1 and ASL 2 students doing "peer review" ends up being a case of "the blind leading the blind."*

On the positive side, I have seen some programs that required advanced (cough) ASL students (ASL 3 or 4?) to visit the ASL 1 and / or ASL 2 classes and function as peer tutors once a week for an hour or so during "practice time."  The teacher was always around and available for questions. Thus it became a form of a lab and was reasonably effective. 

"Advanced" students doing peer tutoring isn't ideal but is more defensible than peer tutoring done by classmates. 
"Advanced students" signing with "beginner students" (with a highly skilled signer available and nearby) is generally a good thing.  Beginner students should not be providing subjective non-highly-supervised feedback to other beginners. 
Note: subjective feedback is not the same as objective feedback. 

Subjective feedback involves giving an opinion.  Objective feedback -- based on clear criteria -- is more factual, straightforward, and less open to interpretation.

If we were to help "peer feedback" become "objective" (based on clear evidence) it would be better.

For example, it would be somewhat objective to use this sort of peer review:


Watch the sample video of the assignment [HERE]
Watch the video of you classmate [HERE]
Compare the two videos and identify specific time codes where the student's signing diverges from that of the sample video in any significant and meaningful way and state what parameter or parameters (handshape, location, palm orientation, movement, or non-manual markers such as facial expression, eyebrow position, mouth shape, head-tilts, torso shifts, etc.) need to be fixed and why.

Using a comparison approach with an accurate reference sample helps to avoid relying on students trying to use their own [limited and often erroneous] "knowledge" to review the other student. 

Students may not know the right or wrong way to sign something but they can often pinpoint when two signs are being done differently.  Students can then learn to describe those differences.  Such descriptions can serve as peer feedback.

Using an accurate sample for comparison means that the peer reviewer is using their brain and eyes to look for differences between two signed examples and identify those differences. This helps us take peer review out of the realm of "subjective" and move it more into the realm of objective.



Also see: "Peer Grading"


*(Note to my Blind and/or Deaf-Blind friends:  Please forgive the attempt at the pun -- I'll try harder next time to resist. I'll still fail but perhaps someday I'll get it right.)


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