Staff Guide: Peerwise

What is it? 

PeerWise is an online repository of multiple-choice questions that are created, answered, rated and discussed by students.
Typically, at the beginning of a term, a course using PeerWise begins with an empty repository. This grows gradually as the course progresses and students author and contribute relevant questions. All activity remains anonymous to students, however instructors are able to view the identity of question and comment authors and have the ability to delete inappropriate questions. In practice, instructor moderation is rarely necessary and PeerWise is often used with little staff involvement. Any course for which it makes sense for students to author their own multiple-choice questions and to explain their understanding of a topic in their own words could benefit from using PeerWise. 

Students use PeerWise to create and to explain their understanding of course related assessment questions, and to answer and discuss questions created by their peers. 

Students create questions by reflecting on what they are learning in a course. They add explanations to their answer helping to reinforce their understanding. Their peers then attempt the questions and see how everyone else has answered. The feedback is immediate, as they have access to explanations and they can participate in discussions. They then rank the question for accuracy and suggest improvements. There are 3 leader boards, the top rated questions, the most popular contributors and the highest scorers. 

How does it help? 

Activities such as writing questions, answering questions and providing and using peer feedback are associated with enhanced understanding of course materials. Challenging students to author their own assessment questions requires them to focus on the important concepts and learning outcomes of a course. Developing effective alternatives encourages students to reflect on possible misconceptions and explaining the answer to a question in their own words reinforces understanding. PeerWise can be effective for students of all abilities and level of preparedness. 

All student-authored questions, answers and explanations are shared with the class, and can be filtered in a number of ways including by course topic, by quality or difficulty ratings, and by popularity. Students can also discover good questions by following authors who have contributed questions they find useful. Students who have a higher level of engagement with PeerWise have been shown to achieve higher levels of attainment in end of course exams than students with a lower level of engagement with PeerWise. There is a significant positive association between student engagement with PeerWise and performance across a range of courses, scientific disciplines, institutions and academic years. 

Students receive immediate feedback when answering questions, including a summary of previously submitted answers. Answered questions can be evaluated for quality and difficulty, and associated discussion threads enable peer-dialogue around each question. Students can request help from their peers, and can improve question explanations. The overall level of activity is the key, so students should be encouraged to utilize the different activities available in the system in a way that suits their own needs and understanding. 

Read the recent findings in this paper:

Kay AE, Hardy J, Galloway RK. Student use of PeerWise: A multi‐institutional, multidisciplinary evaluation. Br J Educ Technol. 2020;51(1):23-35. doi:10.1111/bjet.12754 

 Full list of research papers here 

Advantages 

  • It is very simple to use.  
  • Its quick to set up repository, accessible by your students, can be created in less than a minute.  
  • It complements existing teaching materials and course organisation, and can help to establish a learning community in your class incorporating collaborative learning and peer tutoring 
  • You can see how students are answering individual questions in real-time, and can identify and address common misunderstandings in a timely fashion. Analysing student comments can reveal further insight into the student perception of topics within the course. 
  • The development of MCQ test banks is a very time consuming activity and placing this in the hands of the students is a fast, low cost way for instructors to have access to a large body of MCQ test items designed specifically to test the course content. 
  • By evaluating the topic areas that students have created questions for, you can get a sense of which topics students are more confident with and which topics students are not engaged with. 
  • PeerWise performs well in large classes. The number of high-quality questions is greater and students therefore have access to a higher number of effective questions. 

Support 

The teaching and learning Academy strongly recommend using this system and will support you as much as possible and using it effectively. you can raise a helpdesk ticket here. 

The system is developed and managed by Auckland University in New Zealand. They do not run their own helpdesk system but do provide extensive guides. 

Related Training Sessions

You may be interested in the following related training sessions:

Accessibility