Ertmer et al. (2007) undertook an exploratory study and reports on how exchanging peer feedback with other students could promote critical thinking and higher-level order thinking in a graduate level WebCT course environment. The purpose of the study was to “fill the gap by examining students’ perceptions of the value…regarding the quality of discussion postings” (p. 416). As such, the students were required to post one weekly discussion question and then respond to a weekly question posted by a peer. The students’ postings went through the instructors. The study’s framework surrounded the following hypotheses: online discussions would encourage students to participate in greater levels of interaction, online discussions would assess reflection, online discussions would deliver high quality information, online discussions would develop self-esteem, online discussions would encourage teaching-learning experiences, and online discussions would establish deep learning and social interaction. The research questions were as follows:
RQ1: What is the impact of peer feedback on the quality of students’ postings in an online environment? Can the quality of discourse/learning be maintained and/or increased through the use of peer feedback?
RQ2: What are students’ perceptions of the value of receiving peer feedback? How do these perceptions compare to the perceived value of receiving instructor feedback?
RQ3: What are students’ perceptions of the value of giving peer feedback?
The researchers’ used case study analysis as their research design. The study’s setting was taken place in a semester long graduate level WebCT management course environment, which was taught by a professor and an experienced graduate assistant. The participants in the study were comprised of 15 graduate students enrolled in an online educational technology course. Two faculty members and seven graduate students collected, analyzed and interpreted the data. The research instrument used in the study was a 13 Likert-scale. The study’s scoring rubric was based on Bloom’s taxonomy from pre-course to post course evaluation.

The researchers collected and evaluated quantitative and qualitative data. With that data, the researchers measured the impact of giving and receiving peer feedback of students’ postings in an online environment. The researchers, additionally, evaluated the quality of students’ postings and instructor feedback in an online environment. In the data analysis, the survey results provided reliable and valid data on the students giving and receiving peer feedback in an online environment. There was much critical thinking and higher order level thinking among the students in the discussion. There were many pros and cons about the students giving and receiving peer feedback in an online environment. For the most part, even though some of the receiving of peer feedback was contentious, the students learned self-regulatory skills from giving and receiving feedback in an ill structured environment. For instance, some students articulated that they would have preferred the receiving of feedback from an instructor instead of a peer. Additionally, some students were highly critical of the scoring received by peer feedback in an online environment. For example, some students questioned the 0 or 1 rating, or the constructive feedback received by peers. However, the students did learn from the low ratings, or constructive feedback received from peers. The students also assessed self-regulatory or self-writing skills because of the low ratings or constructive feedback. Moreover, during the interviews, many students were very vocal about Bloom’s taxonomy and the rubric to give and receive peer feedback in an online environment. One student found it rather rude or unforgiven to give or receive a zero as a peer rating in an online environment. He made it clear that only the instructor should give a zero rating. The analysis of data also provided measurements on perceptions of receiving instructor feedback. The raters showed an 86% agreement among the instructors’ online postings. Perception was high among the raters, students and instructors.

The study was well written. The literature review was in alignment with the body of study. The research questions were well written and well addressed. The abstract was closely aligned to the data analysis and conclusion of study. The researchers highlighted the limitations of study. The researchers displayed the reliability and validity of study. What is more, the variables in the study were fully defined and operationalized. The conceptual framework was clearly defined but scattered.
There is much value and discourse in this study. It compels a reader and learner to think critically and to think on a higher order level of thinking in an online environment. Moreover, the peer feedback of giving and receiving displayed deep learning and socio cognitive perspectives. I believe this study will be the model for giving and receiving peer feedback in an online environment. This study will help the writer, researchers and teachers who are trying to gain an effective method to interact with peers in an online environment. This study, furthermore, will aid in student-teacher relationships in an online environment.

Ertmer, P. A., Richardson, J. C., Belland, B., Camin, D., Connolly, P., Coulthard, G. (2007). Using peer feedback to enhance the quality of student online postings: An exploratory study. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(2).

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