Michelle Kennedy’s AP Computer Science Principles students help each other prep for the AP exam just as much as their teacher does. Using the AP rubric, they grade each other’s work, then justify their decisions by talking to each other about the grades they gave. Michelle also encourages her students to point out areas where their peers can improve. This approach to peer assessment helps students build confidence in their computer science knowledge while improving the communication skills they need to advance to more complex projects.
WHEN TO USE
Consider introducing this assignment during the first long-term project of the year and repeating it throughout the school year so students can demonstrate their mastery.
HOW TO IMPLEMENT
> BEFORE CLASS
- Decide the clear rubric you will give students to assess each other’s work. Consider printing it out for them or posting it somewhere they can easily access for reference.
> IN CLASS
- Instruct students in how to provide structured feedback that is supportive rather than critical. The goal here is to foster a sense of confidence and trust among your students.
HOW TO ADAPT
- Encourage students to help each other troubleshoot. Example: In the video highlighting CS Centers, two girls who have already finished a game help another student figure out why his approach isn’t working.
- Suggest that students provide feedback about what they like about their peers’ projects so they can grow in that area even more in the future.
- Give students a rubric to assess each other’s work and the tools needed to give each other constructive feedback as Michelle does in the video. Then encourage them to work together to determine how the project could be taken further in the future. “Students are more receptive to each other’s feedback than mine,” says Michelle.
- Consider an art critique approach, where students can debate the impact of each other’s work in the context of the digital world and society.
- Model peer assessment first. Michelle shows her students a few examples from previous classes (with names removed) of quality peer assessment and subpar peer assessment.
- Have students switch computers. Michelle found it saves time to have students pass their laptops back and forth during assessment rather than download and upload their work.
- AP Computer Science Principles: A course that introduces students to the foundational concepts of the field and challenges them to explore how computing and technology can impact the world.