The effects of face-to-face and online peer feedback on business students' perceptions of quality and effectiveness
Deficiencies existed in recent research studies examining the use of peer feedback in business-communication writing courses--both face-to-face and online. The purpose of this research study was to provide current educators with a better understanding of the benefits, as well as the limitations, of using formative peer feedback as a strategy to improve collaborative student learning and course-objective outcomes among students in business-writing courses at Montana State University. This mixed-methods, quasi-experimental study was designed to investigate business-communication students' perceptions of using formative peer feedback to assist them with their assignments in both face-to-face and online learning environments. Three classes of students enrolled in an introductory business-communication writing course engaged in both online and face-to-face peer feedback conditions for two class assignments. Other data sources included a 2008 Lizzio and Wilson questionnaire to assess participants' perceptions of their feedback experience in face-to-face and online feedback conditions, course grades, and individual as well as group interviews. The data analysis process used multiple methodologies to integrate, analyze, and interpret findings. Analysis of data consisted of analyzing online surveys, and individual and focus-group questionnaires resulted in the coding of student response statements. From online surveys, questionnaires, audiotaped interviews, and instructor observations, response data categories were initialized and synthesized into associated themes for further analysis. Results for both the positive and negative message show that, overall, students "agreed" that the feedback was developmental in that it helped them to improve, and was encouraging and fair. However, students overall disagreed with statements related to inconsistency of feedback, difficulty reading marker's comments, difficulty understanding feedback, and unknown grading expectations. Students' interview comments further suggested that, through the online process, it was difficult to fully understand marker's comments related to certain aspects of the assignments. Future research should continue to examine the use of online peer feedback as an assessment formative method. Furthermore, it is suggested that such research first focus on effective protocols that simplify the peer-to-peer feedback process so that students view the online feedback procedure as a fair and equitable form of assessment.