How To Assess Wikis and Group Learning – WikiNavMap, PeerWise…

Collaborative learning is all very well, but how do you assess quality of individual learning in multi-authored projects and collaborative tasks such as wiki projects?  How do students, who know nothing about a subject, teach other students about the same subject, and assess each other along the way – and what happened to the lecturer?

The concept: students mark each others papers, set each other questions with associated answers (which aren’t checked to see if they are correct) and assess each other.

New tools to measure the quality of learning, were described by John Hamer, (University of Auckland, NZ) at a recent EducauseAustralia conference. For example, Aropä and PeerWise support collaborative learning in large, undergraduate classes – Aropä enables students to referee their peers coursework and PeerWise is a data bank of multi-choice questions contributed, explained and discussed entirely by students.


“These systems leverage the latent intellectual capacity of a large class to provide new opportunities for learning.  Using Aropä each student might review three or four essays and receive a corresponding amount of feedback, all within a few days.  The immediacy and diversity of the feedback is substantially greater than can be produced by a tutor.  While the quality of the reviewing is typically variable, there are affective benefits in challenging students to distinguish between good and poor feedback.  By eliminating the stamp of authority and introducing diverse, possibly conflicting feedback, students are required to exercise their critical judgement in deciding what information to accept and reject.


Peerwise leverages the energy of a large class in a different way, building an annotated question bank that can contain 1000’s of multiple-choice questions. Each question is accompanied by an explanation written by the question author, overall quality and difficult ratings assigned by students who have answered
It is no longer about right or wrong answers but about the learning process, applying and understanding what you are learning, while you are learning.

A whole new way of learning but also questioning, changing from one that is hierachical, (experts vs students) to being able to learn from your peers.
Feedback from students shows high levels of participation – students state that they don’t value the feedback they get from other students highly but they do see benefit in writing reviews and also value seeing other student work, benefit perceived in reviewing both exemplary and weak work.

  • Greater involvement with task = greater time on task = greater learning
  • Change in power relations between author and reviewer, student and lecturer
  • Greater social involvement – Students are not graded on right questions but on contribution made and the comments and feedback given (imagine the discussion if you question the marks given to you by your fellow student)
  • Rich trace of student performance
  • Assessment becomes a part of the learning process
  • And a big plus: Department marking budget available for redistribution to remedial tutoring


Other tools include trac an enhanced wiki and issue tracking system for software development projects. It allows wiki markup and includes a timeline showing all current and past project giving an overview of the project and tracking progress very easy.


Uses the trac environment to visualise a wiki structure and how it changes from the 1st week to the end of the year, showing individual students contributions and teamwork.  It answers questions like
* What does the whole wiki look like now?
* What was happening in April, September and May 2009?
* What did the wiki look like at the end of 2008?
* Which wiki pages did Mary contribute to?



Developed by the Universityof Sydney supports collaborative writing, particularly for students writing academic essays.
Glosser supports the writing  giving a series of tools to help reflect and improvie writing by 1) scaffolding their reflection with trigger questions, and 2) using text mining techniques to provide content clues that can help answer those questions.


They didn’t learn me like that when I was at school, that’s for sure.

And to see coverage on the Educause Australia Conference on Twitter, including this presentation, search twitter using #EdAust09