Peer feedback for ideas

Target Market: Students, faculty, and mentors participating in the “flagship” course of the UMass Amherst Entrepreneurship Initiative, AKA Entreclub. 
{Note: this same product could possibly be just as useful for other classes.  Perhaps Science/Engineering project design courses?  Maybe for classes of the ilk descried in “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch?}

* Students with ideas are hungry for more input, but class time and faculty time is severely limited and growing more limited as our classes grow in size.
* Students get few opportunities to put practice their new learning.
* Students have few ways to find out the expertise & connections of their peers (which is often far greater than one might expect).
* You can never get enough practice communicating!
My idea:
* Each week one student team gets to post an elevator pitch or piece of an executive summary online.  
* Every student in the class is required, as homework, to provide meaningful feedback.
* Each student must also RATE other student’s comments in some way. 
* Students also get to rate the quality of the elevator pitch/executive summary in some way.
How this addresses the need:
* At least 14 teams (1 for each week) get a chance to get a ton of feedback.  There’s no reason why we couldn’t do MORE than one pitch/week if it seemed time would allow.
* Students get tons of practice applying what they have learned in class to real problems being faced by their peers.  This seems more compelling than faceless textbook examples.
* After weeks of this repeated activity, students will start to learn what one another’s areas of expertise are, what connections they have – they’ll find some of it directly via the activities.  This knowledge will make student-to-student networking easier, and then make that networking activity more likely to yield tangible results (help/connections).
* The process of commenting on your peer’s ideas every week, and then finding your own comments getting scored & reviewed – should give students a powerful feedback loop that can help them improve.   
* All this activity of students scoring students makes grading easier (I think).  We wouldn’t want to use the student’s scores as teh grades, but the aggregate data could help us know where to focus our attention.
* What is good about this idea?
* What concerns you about this idea?
* Do you know of any technologies out there we could leverage to do something like this and/or prototype it quickly?

10 thoughts on “Peer feedback for ideas

  1. Hi Paul,I love blogs and I love this idea.The website is a great tool no doubt and it is missing the certain social element a blog can provide.I am pretty experienced now at setting up blogs and manipulating them. I am on board 100% with helping getting this going for next semester.Great idea!- Andy Cook

  2. I think it’s a great idea.Andy and I can build the whole thing in a couple days and host it too.The only thing we might need to do is make that section of the site members-only, so that outsiders can’t find your pitch on Google. I am sure students will be worried about sort of thing.Peace!Alex

  3. Alex & Andy – you guys ROCK!!!! I'll take you up on that offer if the rest of this discussion shows the idea has merit – I don't want to take up your time unless we are sure we can use it and use it well. I will shortly post some of the other comments I received via email.THANK YOU!

  4. Here are some comments that came in via email…”The university already has been using SPARK which does this and more. I’ve been using it (not that well but there is a lot of potential for it now that I’ve taught a semester) and I know that other professors are using it very effectively in their classes. I know professor Hyer has used it before too and I think it can be set up for any class. The drawback to this is that only people in the class have access. Also to quickly implement something like this I know there is an EI facebook group already maybe that will be a good method as well. “

  5. Via email: “Hi Paul,I am only halfway into my night so…I like it very much. From a uni system point of view you are spot on in that we can’t get the students to cross-grade, but the cross-feedback is even better. I am torn between making feedback from peers anonymous versus open. Open facilitates networking, anonymous may raise the quality of feedback. In either case, the instructors would need to know the identities for quality control.The Dream? A collaborative filtering style system. “people that liked you pitch style/idea also tended to like….” “reviewers who liked your idea are most often in _____ industry space””

  6. From Corey Silva, Via Email:”Is there anyway you could use Angelsoft? Create an EI angelsoft group page where students could submit applications, ES’s, etc and use the forum to rate and review back and forth etc….Is that possible???”

  7. Hey Paul,Sounds like a good plan! It would be nice if the person posting the comment could choose to include or not include their name before they send the message. For the instructors every message could include the students ID number which you could have the computer match to the name on the back end for grading purposes.Looking forward to seeing this work!-Brycen

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