PSEER Speaker Series welcomes Dr. Andrea Bradford

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The PSEER Speaker Series - Large Scale Successes: Winning Strategies for Big Classes - welcomes Dr. Andrea Bradford, Associate Professor in the School of Engineering.

Shifting Responsibilities: Using Peer Assessment in Senior Engineering Design to Provide Effective Support and Meaningful Feedback Despite Large Class Size


Peer assessment has been implemented in a senior, design-intensive engineering course. One objective was to maintain effective learning activities, including a challenging design and simulation project, with increasing class size. Another objective was to take advantage of the active, collaborative, learning opportunities provided by grading tests in class and providing feedback to and receiving feedback from peers on design work. To achieve the largest benefit possible, best practices suggested in the literature were followed, such as training peer assessors; using multiple assessors to address student concerns about fairness; and incorporating reflection on the peer assessment activities. The research project aims to determine which of the potential benefits are realized; gauge student receptiveness to the approach; and identify refinements to best practices for successful implementation of peer assessment in engineering design courses.

Data were collected in Fall 2016 through two surveys administered before and after the course’s peer evaluation activities and through graded reflections on peer evaluation activities. Most students thought they learned as much or more than they would have without the incorporation of peer evaluation. Based on predominantly positive student comments and fair grading, peer grading of tests will be used in future with a few minor modifications. Most students also found the peer assessment of design reports to be fair, with a reasonable time commitment.  Some students were troubled by the variability of grades given by peers. Enhanced training was suggested to help students grade more consistently and provide more effective feedback. A few modifications have been made and the project is continuing with additional data collection from the Fall 2017 class. 

Andrea Bradford, Ph.D., P.Eng.

Dr. Andrea Bradford has been a faculty member since 2002. Her teaching and research are focused on urban water systems design and management; green infrastructure design; and stream and wetland restoration. Dr. Bradford was previously a senior water policy advisor for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Water Policy Branch, where she provided expertise in stormwater management, groundwater and ecosystem protection. More recently, Dr. Bradford has provided expert testimony on the impacts of development on water resources at Ontario Municipal Board and Environmental Joint Tribunal hearings. Within the School of Engineering, Andrea has served as program leader for both Environmental and Water Resources Engineering, and has contributed to curriculum development and review. She has served on two Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board teams reviewing the undergraduate engineering programs at other universities. 

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