Why use Calibrated Peer Review™?

Initial Publication Date: September 20, 2008
In using Calibrated Peer Review™, students are asked to write their own ideas, to peer review what others write, and to self assess their own work in comparison to expert explanations. Calibrated Peer Review™ can also provide good examples of typical flawed explanations to help students recognize the flaws.

Another strength about the use of written explanations and peer review on CPR is explained by theoretical perspectives from Benjamin Whorf who graduated from MIT as an engineer in 1918 and then became an anthropologist and a linguist who thought deeply about the role of language for learning. Whorf viewed learning as a linguistic process of accommodating new patterns of word use " with the emphasis on the patterns and not on individual vocabulary terms. Whorf explained that thinking through one's own best wording choice and questioning the wording choices made by someone else increases comprehension. According to Whorf, The process of coming to agreement requires that individuals calibrate the way they make meaning against the practice of other people. Just as we determine the accuracy of a measuring instrument by checking that the units or scale used on it conform with some socially agreed upon reference, so we also calibrate our meanings with those of other people in order to facilitate agreement. Calibration of agreement often involves negotiation as people make adjustments to what they mean in the process of working towards mutual understanding (Lee, 1997, Harvard Educational Review 67: 430-471., p. 446). CPR is an especially valuable tool to structure this type of learning because students have to carefully select their own words (initial report writing), question the wording choices of others (calibrations and peer reviews), critically evaluate their own words again after thinking over the wording choices of others (selfreview), and then have the chance to debate with the instructor why the peer comments might be incorrect. CPR allows students to study the same problem from different perspectives (writer and reviewer) over a period of several days so that they have the time to think and grow and change in their understanding of the concepts.

Calibrated Peer Review™ can be used to
  • Help students who are experiencing difficulties learning an important concept
  • Meet a self-imposed or externally mandated demand to put writing into a curriculum
  • Provide students with new opportunities for critical thinking in the discipline
  • Explore new ways to invigorate a course
  • Create opportunities for diverse students with different learning styles to demonstrate mastery of the course material
  • Encourage students to collaborate with and learn from peers.
  • Give students the experience of peer review in advancing scientific knowledge