Can you hear us now? Research on students using iPods

Julie Reynolds, Mellon Lecturer in Writing & Biology
Vicki Russell
,  Senior Lecturing Fellow and Director, Writing Studio

Julie and Vicki have published a research report on using audio feedback for peer review on student writing.  They used iPods distributed as part of the Duke Digital Initiative, to test if audio feedback is an effective way for students to offer high-quality comments to each other on their writing.   Their report “Can you hear us now?: A comparison of peer review quality when students give audio versus written feedback” (pdf) is published in the annual 2008 edition of The WAC Journal, a national peer-reviewed journal on writing across the curriculum.

Julie and Vicki noticed that when they gave students feedback on their writing, audio feedback was more time-efficient and seemed to be of higher quality than written comments.  They designed a study to find out if students would experience the same efficiency and effectiveness using audio feedback for peer review.  Students in their classes gave and received peer reviews using both audio and written comments.  Students were surveyed about their preferences and perceptions at the end of the semester.  In addition, Julie and Vicki assessed the quality of the peer reviews using defined criteria and two raters for each review.

They found that audio peer reviews contained more specific and higher order comments than written peer reviews.  They conclude that audio feedback significantly improves the quality of peer reviews.  The paper finishes with concrete suggestions based on their results and experiences with students for effectively using audio feedback in the classroom.

This paper is a great example of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning; Vicki and Julie have carefully researched “what works” in teaching using audio peer reviews, and offered suggestions for others based on their results.