Peer grading in Introduction to R - SPSS - SAS

Steve Simon


I’ve gotten some helpful feedback that I need to encourage more interactions among students in the on-line classes

In many online classes this is done by encouraging online discussion of the material in the class. This is not so easy

There are a couple of ways

An obvious strategy is to encourage students to comment on anything they find confusing in the videotaped lectures. For example

“I got a strange error message when I tried to import the dataset with “read.csv(file=fn

When you see this

“Did anyone else have this problem?”

Then wait a bit. If you’re lucky

“I had that problem also

Then another student might chime in and say

“I got the variable names back by cut-and paste of the first line into the R program itself. I had to reformat a bit

That’s the theory


Another strategy for encouraging student interactions is to require peer-grading of assignments. These are pass/fail classes

Again this is tricky for a programming class. Someone shares the code they used and the output that the code produced

One thing that you can get one students to critique about another student’s work is the quality of the documentation. One thing these classes need to emphasize more is placing a greater emphasis on documentation.

So a student might submit a project where they imported a text file, created value labels

  1. Did you understand the information in the data dictionary?
  2. is there any information that you wanted to see in the data dictionary that wasn’t there?

In order for peer evaluation to work at its best


A second thing that one student can critique about another student’s work is the quality of the interpretation of the output. This requires a change in emphasis again. These classes do ask for interpretations when appropriate

there’s only so much you can say. So these classes need to incorporate things like a Fisher’s Exact Test for any two by two crosstabulation

I don’t want to go too deeply into statistical tests in these classes. My goal is to teach coding

So assignments should ask for the output and the code (for R and SAS) and the log (for SAS). But it should also ask for a brief report (no more than one page) interpreting the results. When the first student submits the report

  1. Did you understand the interpretation provided?
  2. Was it consistent with the raw output?
  3. Was there anything else you wanted to see in the interpretation?