Mathematical Communication is a developing collection of resources for engaging students in writing and speaking about mathematics, whether for the purpose of learning mathematics or of learning to communicate as mathematicians.

Peer critique for presentations

Feedback can come from instructors and from peers.

Advantages of Peer Critique of Presentations

  • When presenters hear the same feedback from more than one student, they’re likely to pay attention to the feedback.
  • Students learn from seeing their peers present and reflecting on what works and what doesn’t
  • Students become more active listeners if they need to give feedback
  • If students put their names on the feedback forms and you collect the forms, you can use them as a record of attendance.

Steven Kleiman of M.I.T. reports on his experience with peer critiques here.

Guiding Peer Critique

Students rarely give harsh feedback. If anything, some students may err on the side of giving vacuous feedback for fear of being too harsh.

  • To ensure that feedback is constructive you might solicit only specific positive feedback for the first round of presentations and then, in the second round of presentations, also ask for specific constructive criticism.
  • Monitor the feedback and give guidance as needed, particularly for the first few rounds of critique.
  • If you yourself give collegial feedback to the students, your feedback will act as a model that develops a collegial atmosphere in the class.
  • Guide students by providing a model, form, or rubric, like those below under “Forms of peer critique.”
  • MIT’s Writing Across the Curriculum has created a video about peer critique for students

Forms of peer critique

Peer feedback can take a variety of forms

The more detailed the checklist or rubric you use, the more difficult it may be for students to pay attention and note feedback at the same time. In any case, students will need at least a few minutes to finish writing their feedback at the end of class.

Questions to Consider

  • Do you want the feedback to go immediately to the student presenter or would you like to see it first? Presenters appreciate prompt feedback, so if you want a copy too, consider inviting the student to come with you to the copy machine immediately after class.
  • Would you like the critiques to be anonymous? Students seem to give good feedback either way.
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