Peer Review of Multimedia Web Sites Authored by Student Teams

Trish Ferrett
Chemistry, Carleton College
Author Profile

This material was originally developed as part of the Carleton College Teaching Activity Collection
through its collaboration with the SERC Pedagogic Service.


This activity is a peer-review exercise where students, as individuals, write templated reviews of draft web sites authored by student teams. The web sites are created over an entire term and relate to a topic chosen by the team related to abrupt climate change. This activity helps students revise their web content on the science of abrupt climate change, and their writing and use of data imagery to tell a compelling story.

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Undergraduate 200-level science course on abrupt climate change for non-majors and environmental studies majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Each student team must have produced a draft web site with complete content, and an attempt at organizing their site along a "story line". Because this exercise comes deep into a course on abrupt climate change, students are well familiar with the science of abrupt climate change. They have also started to draft content for a topic related to climate change.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity occurs in week 8 of a 10-week course, near the end. It is part of a larger, staged team project that is staged over the term. This peer-review stage helps to improve the student web sites, and it helps teams learn by viewing one other web site they can then compare to their own.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Refinement of understanding of the science of abrupt climate change (thresholds, tipping points, feedbacks, hysteresis, small change can make big change, stochastic resonance, etc...).

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Critical review of a multimedia web site (written text, visuals, data) produced by other students for:
clarity, organization, accessibility, the power of story, and the effectiveness of the link between the science of abrupt climate change and the topic area.

Other skills goals for this activity

Response to a critical review of content and writing on a team web site.

Description of the activity/assignment

Students are asked, as individuals in a team, to critically review the draft of a multimedia web site authored by another team in my course. Student must follow a template with 5 review criteria, and submit their review to each member of the web site author team and to me.

Please see the handout below for instructions I give to students for this activity.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Each student submits a review to every member of the web site author team and to me. I have access to all the web sites and reviews, which I read carefully. I give students credit for doing this assignment, if they do it with high quality and thoughtfulness. Then, web site teams are expected to incorporate suggestions they get from multiple reviewers, or to respond directly to me about what they chose not to respond to advice and why. A piece of the final web site grade relates to how well the team responded to the common features in their peer reviews.

As needed, I do a final review of each web site, addressing issues not mentioned by the student peer reviews. My final reviews are often brief or not needed at all. The student peer reviews at Carleton were of very high quality, and the teams took them seriously. By this point in the project, students were highly capable of assessing each others' work according to my review criteria.

I evaluate the final web sites and check to see if the author teams has responded to major points in the review.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

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Supporting references/URLs

I have included below several final web sites created by student teams in my fall 2009 course on Abrupt Climate Change, to give a sense for the multimedia product that is being reviewed by students.

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