Culture of Critique: Online Learning Circles and Peer Reviews in Graduate Education

Culture of Critique: Online Learning Circles and Peer Reviews in Graduate Education

Margaret Riel (Pepperdine University, USA), James Rhoads (Citrus College, USA) and Eric Ellis (Treasure Valley Community College, USA)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-965-6.ch006


In this chapter, we explore a strategy, “online learning circles,” forhelping students develop their own authority and trust in evaluatingresearch and a respect for the authority of their peers. Our goal is toexamine this online collaborative structure and its ability to foster a cultureof constructive critique in graduate-school education. The data we analyzeincludes peer-review messages and survey responses. Student messagedata are coded for type and quality of peer review. The survey data is usedto understand the students’ perspective about their experience in learningcircles and their judgment of the quality of feedback they offered andreceived from their peers. This research addresses two important issues.First, it evaluates a structure, learning circles for group work in graduateonline education; and second, it explores the type and form of peerfeedback from within this collaborative structure. Learning circles didprovide a structure for peer review but there are reservations and issuesinvolved in helping students to develop the trust needed to work togethereffectively. The second issue revolves around authority in the process ofpeer review. Under what conditions are students willing to be critical andto accept criticism from their peers as legitimate? To do this involves aprocess of reacculturation that is difficult to create in courses of limitedduration but may be one argument for the advantages of creating a cohortmodel of education in either on-campus or online programs of study.

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