During the 2013-14 academic year, over 600 questions were created by nearly 80% of students without any incentive to participate. In this case, PeerWise was set up purely as a tool to help them prepare for their end of year exams. A statistical model incorporating Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3 marks as well as participation with PeerWise revealed an adjusted effect equivalent to an average increase in final course mark of 1.6% (P=0.001 95% CI 0.6 – 2.6, Adj. R-Square 60%). These initial results indicate that there are small but clear benefits for students who use PeerWise as a preparatory tool for their 4th year summative exams. This correlation between student engagement and examination performance was also noted at other institutions (Rhind and Pettigrew, 2012, McQueen et al., 2014)
In addition to creating, sharing and answering MCQs, students also have the option of leaving open-ended comments in a discussion board format associated with each question. It provides them with a peer –to-peer social learning environment where the course performance has been shown to be positively correlated with the number of comments authored (Hardy et al., 2013).
In this session, the findings of a more qualitative approach will be presented including the analysis of student comments within this collaborative, social and crowd-sourced learning environment. We propose to investigate the quality and the nature of comments written by students in PeerWise in relation to their end of year exam performance. One aspect of this work will involve a classification of the comments into Positive, Neutral, Negative, Query and Clarification categories. Our primary goal will be to generate guidelines for students regarding commenting behaviour that will help them maximise their learning potential with a social learning tool such as Peerwise. We will also investigate whether Peerwise is creating new opportunities such as social network learning described in a recent study as a form of practice of connectivist learning (Wang et al., 2014).
HARDY, J., KAY, A. & GALLOWAY, R. Students as Co-creators: the Development of Student Learning Networks in PeerWise. Physics Education Research Conference 2013, July 17-18 2013 Portland, OR. 169-172.
MCQUEEN, H. A., SHIELDS, C., FINNEGAN, D. J., HIGHAM, J. & SIMMEN, M. W. 2014. PeerWise Provides Significant Academic Benefits to Biological Science Students Across Diverse Learning Tasks, But with Minimal Instructor Intervention. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 42, 371-381.
RHIND, S. M. & PETTIGREW, G. W. 2012. Peer Generation of Multiple-Choice Questions: Student Engagement and Experiences. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 39, 375-379.
WANG, Z. J., CHEN, L. & ANDERSON, T. 2014. A Framework for Interaction and Cognitive Engagement in Connectivist Learning Contexts. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 15, 121-141.