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Top 10 Principles of LDC Module Peer Review

November 28th, 2016

Hot on the heels of the IU13 LDC National Peer Review Studio, the team at LDC wanted to share with the community ten things you should know to help finesse your module-reviewing skills. They are*:

1. Know the rubric.

It is your Constitution. Granted, that means it is sometimes hard to interpret, but every score must be an attempt to apply the rubric's specific language and meaning.

2. Trust evidence, not intuition.

Intuition is a powerful force, but it is also highly subjective or specific to the individual. Calibration with other scorers requires us to base our judgments on the evidence that everyone can see, not on what a particular person feels.

3. Match evidence to language in the rubric.

A safe rule of thumb: If you select an indicator on the rubric, be sure you can identify evidence that justifies that selection in the module itself.

4. Begin with the end in mind.

Since a Good-to-Go score is the goal for any dimension, begin with the Good-to-Go criteria first when matching evidence to the rubric. You want to approach each dimension with these criteria in mind and then consider whether or not the module design meets them.

5. When scoring each dimension, isolate your judgment.

A dimensional rubric like the peer review rubric is not designed to assess one's overall impression of a module. Rather, it is isolating variables, distinguishing between relative strengths and weaknesses. Be mindful that a module's low score in one scoring dimension does not cloud your judgment on the scoring of other, unrelated dimensions.  

6. When scoring holistically, base judgments on the preponderance of evidence.

After scoring each dimension, we ask peer reviewers to make two holistic judgments - a holistic score for the Teaching Task and a holistic score for the Instructional Ladder.  The holistic score should be based on the preponderance or strength of the body of evidence.  However, there are often times when a single problem is big enough that it must be weighted more heavily when determining the holistic score. We sometimes call this a "fatal flaw" or a "deal breaker.”

7. Score only what you can see.

Scorers who attend to exactly what is presented on the page rather than making inferences about the module author’s intent tend to score more accurately. That shouldn't surprise us: It is easier to agree on what is than on what could be. A score is always based on what is.  Avoid “filling in the gaps” of a task or instructional ladder with strong potential. Instead, score what is present and give formative feedback to help the module author fully achieve that potential.

8. Resist seduction: one good element does not equal a good module.

You read a particularly well designed task prompt and after that, the module designer can do no wrong. (This is known as the "halo effect.")  One exceptional strength does not cancel out the weaknesses.

9. Recognize pre-loaded template elements.

Some LDC module templates provide a standardized set of Academic Standards, Skills List, and Instructional Ladder Elements that are meant to be selected and adapted for a particular module.  Focus on how well aligned those standards, skills, and instructional elements are to the demands of the teaching task and whether the teacher has sufficiently customized those elements for the specific purposes of the module.  

10. Know your biases; minimize their impact.

The trick is not to rid yourself of bias; that's impossible. But you do need to recognize what your biases are, and be mindful of how they can trigger first impressions that color all judgments that follow.

To learn more, please contact

*Adapted from TeaMSS "Top Ten Scoring Principles" (Measured Progress and the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, & Equity for the Literacy Design Collaborative, 2013).


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