Calibrated Peer Review

This material was originally created for Starting Point:Introductory Geology
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.

Initial Publication Date: December 21, 2006

What is Calibrated Peer ReviewTM?

Calibrated Peer ReviewTM (CPR) (more info) is a web-based writing and peer review tool free to instructors and their classes. Students write short essays on a given topic following guided questions to articulate their ideas and promote critical thinking. Students submit the essays online then read and assign a score to three "calibration" essays. After gaining practice reading for content and reviewing, students read and score three anonymous peer essays. At the end, the students go back and read and score their own essay.

The effectiveness and use of Calibrated Peer ReviewTM in introductory-level courses

Elizabeth Heise at Blinn College gave the same set of essay assignments to two introductory-level geoscience courses. One section was instructed to complete traditional writing assignments, while the other section utilized the electronic peer review program called Calibrated Peer ReviewTM.

Heise found that the students' writing skills with the traditional writing assignments did not improve from one assignment to the next. However, the students that used an electronic peer review system showed improvement in their technical writing and critical thinking skills between two assignments.

Example CPR Assignment - Why Study Geology?

The goal of this assignment is to introduce students to the science of geology AND to the process of Calibrated Peer Review - ideal for a first writing assignment of the semester. It is a short assignment which points out the characteristics of geologists and the role of geology in our world. This assignment is available in the CPR library. A limited preview of the assignment is available in the CPR Assignment Library (more info) (instructors can view the full contents of the assignment library once they complete the free registration).


The CPR white paper (more info) was written by Orville L. Chapman, a designer of CPR and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA (follow the link to access the white paper as a PDF file under the 'Overview' menu).

The Department of Chemistry at Texas A&M University has prepared an excellent handout for students titled What is Calibrated Peer Review (CPR) and Why are we doing it? (more info)

Robinson, R., 2001, Calibrated Peer ReviewTM: An application to increase student reading and writing skills. The American Biology Teacher, v. 63, n. 7, p. 474-480.

Cervato, C., Rudd, J., Ridky, R., 2003, Calibrated Peer Review for the Earth Sciences: a prototype assignment on earthquakes and plate tectonics. Abstracts with Programs (Geological Society of America), v. 35, n. 6, p. A-441.

Heise, E.A., Palmer-Julson, A., Su, T.M., 2002, Calibrated Peer Review writing assignments for introductory geology courses. Abstracts with Programs (Geological Society of America), v. 34, n. 6, p. A-345.

Russell, A., Chapman, O., Wegner, P., 1998, Molecular Science: Network-deliverable curricula. Journal of Chemical Education, v. 75, p. 578-579. *the original paper that discusses CPR

James A. Rudd II, Vivian Z. Wang, Cinzia Cervato & Robert W. Ridky (2009) Calibrated Peer Review Assignments for the Earth Sciences, Journal of Geoscience Education, 57:5, 328-334, DOI: 10.5408/1.3559673