Peer-review-based examination in a PhD-level course: ”Introduction to Research” at the Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University, Sweden
Paper in proceedings, 2016
Early during PhD education, the Sahlgrenska Academy students across the health sciences take the course ”Introduction to Research” aimed to i) integrate the teaching of Theory of Science, Research Ethics, Research Methodology, Scientific Communication, and Information Retrieval using one, integrated examination assignment, and ii) utilize the different backgrounds and research areas of the students for peer development.
Groups of four PhD students conduct a peer-review process comprising each student’s research plan with a commentary reflecting on the course subjects in relation to each student’s project. Workshops are provided to support the writing and peer-review processes. After three weeks of classroom-based teaching, students update their research plan and write a reflective commentary. Each student peer-reviews the documents of their group peers, giving feedback on content, style, and organization. For the final revision, students thus have to consider the feedback of three peers. Each student evaluates her/his own performance and learning, peer-review skills, feedback received, research plan improvements, and the group’s work.
We evaluate the outcome of the examination assignment by analysis of the PhD students’ written reflections that are part of the assignment. Students appreciate the opportunity to re-evaluate their research plan and get multi-perspective feedback on it. They also find writing the commentary challenging and that the research plans get more realistic and structured. The literature on peer response as a learning activity is substantial but there is less work published on PhD-peer processes to promote learning and we hope this presentation offers a venue to explore such a discussion.