Posters and Peer Review on a Wiki for an Upper-Level History Course
– Megan Greene, History, University of Kansas
As one of a set of scaffolded assignments leading to the production of a research paper, I was going to have a poster day in class. Students were to produce a poster on their research topic describing their topic and discussing materials they would be using to support their argument from three sources. They would also review and comment on the ideas in their peers’ posters. The assignment encouraged them to make their posters look nice, but did not require it. At first, when we transitioned online, I thought I might have to give this assignment up, because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to recreate in Blackboard the same sort of easy to use, gallery effect classroom walls would have given me. After a quick consultation with Toshi Urata at CODL, I built a wiki and loaded into it a table with three columns and enough rows for all of the students. I then modified the peer review requirements so each student would review only two posters.
Students uploaded their posters to the wiki and had several days to look over their peers’ posters and review them. I had done a poster day once before, in a different class, but I noticed this time I got much more visually stimulating posters. I think by doing this assignment entirely online and without having to worry about printing or sizing posters and the associated costs, many students felt freed up to add more graphics and relevant images to their work.
The course is History 604: Contemporary Greater China. It had 21 students, 19 of whom were undergraduates (mostly advanced, but not necessarily history or EALC majors), and two of whom were non-degree seeking students thinking about going on to do graduate work in history. It was a fairly heavy reading course and I mostly ran it as a discussion class, though given that only a few students had background on China, I had to do a bit of lecturing during the first couple of weeks.
This assignment was designed as a way to give students an opportunity to present their research to the whole class and get a bit of feedback on their ideas from their peers without taking up the amount of class time oral presentations would have required. We could do the whole thing in a single day. It was the final assignment in a set of four assignments (1. topic statement and preliminary bibliography, 2. thesis and outline, 3. 500 word chunk) leading up to the production of a research paper. They got comments from me on all four pre-assignments, but this was the only one for which they got feedback from their peers. For details about this assignment, click here.