Tips For The Class: Exemplary Peer Reviews

This class leverages the benefits of peer review frequently. On every assignment, you'll generally review four of your classmates' assignments. The purposes of this are threefold:

  • To expose you to what your classmates are working on, both for your own curiosity and as a point of comparison for your own assignments
  • To put you in the position of the teacher and critic, finding strengths and weaknesses in others' work and developing your own understanding as a result.
  • To help you get extra feedback on your ideas. Many of your classmates are experienced professionals in these areas, and they'll have valuable insights for you.

Participation in peer review is also a required part of the course's participation grade, and it is evaluated based in part on the quality of the reviews you give. We don't expect you to be experts in these areas, of course, and thus we aren't expecting you to be able to give expert-level feedback; but we do expect that you'll give your earnest thoughts on your classmates' work and try to help them improve in any way you can.

In order to understand what kinds of peer reviews would represent this kind of earnest participation, below are a few exemplary peer reviews. We'll add to this list over time. You're encouraged to model your peer reviews after these if you're unsure of what level of depth and insight is expected.

Personal Statement Peer Reviews

It's fortunate that you're interested in both adaptive tutoring and game-based learning, as they do have the potential to nicely feed into each other! Games are a great platform to deliver intelligently-tailored content in an organic, somewhat-opaque way.  Do you think you'd be interesting in creating a small game as a platform to test out your proposed system? Or are you perhaps leaning towards working on a more general solution?
In any case, connecting ML to education seems like it'd open up a whole slew of interesting potential design projects, and it's going to be a great place to start! Enjoy the term!


That's really fascinating. I like the idea of basically having a system that heavily uses meta-cognition. Although it is definitely not the normal use of meta-cognition. When I normally think of that, I usually think of a situation where an agent learns from itself but in this situation, it sounds like it learns from feedback, which is still fascinating idea. One of the things I remember most about KBAI is how we were able to see links between humans and AI and how studying one helps us understand the other. This seems like a great way to explore those ideas further than you would otherwise. I am excited to see where this goes.


Language education is an area that has seemed to really embrace technology.  As speech recognition software has improved it has really aided in the delivery of spoken language education, now appearing even in the mobile space.  It would be interesting to see how some of those systems can compare to receiving education in a more traditional setting.  Having taken a few language classes and always struggled, one of my big problems was trying to speak in class due to a sense of embarrassment.  I worried so much that I was saying something wrong that I never practiced as much as I should.  Computer based systems could do a lot to help students like myself.

Assignment 1 Peer Reviews

Group work is an interesting topic.  I'm curious how effective it is vs solo work for learning.  I have known teachers to cite it as less work for them, but students often complain about their teammates.

I would add to your list cooperation as a question.  Communication, coordination, and evaluation rely on cooperation as a basis. The work I am doing this semester is on examining cooperation in group work from the perspective of game theory.  I'm curious if you could build mechanisms to aid teachers in evaluating the cooperation of group members?

What do you imagine the end result of your research will be? A summary of current publications? A survey on what students and teachers like and use? Or will these be purely facilitative toward creating an app, whose structure is unclear at this time because you still need to have research results?

How feature rich to you imagine this app would be this semester? You might not know which features to select, but do you have an idea of how many features you can support? Have you thought about platform basics? Integrations?


"Highly impressed by the research you have done thus far!

As I was reading your paper I reflected on my two bachelor degrees and how different the advising was. One was 1-1 with an assigned professor, who would ask me what courses I would take next, give suggestions, ask how things were going, ask for feedback on our department's courses, etc. The other was done in email and unless something was going wrong, they didn't say much.

My own experience with the OMS CS program is similar to what you recorded. It is primarily about determining what to take next. Also as you say, we have lots of options, in fact I dropped both classes I originally signed up for this semester in order to take this course and the Machine Learning for Trading course. It felt very strange doing that, but we have the flexibility to do so.

Overall, your idea of building some sort of automation or path or guide to helping other OMS CS students in their choice of classes is not only admirable, but do able. There are so many questions and opinions that keep coming up over and over and I think capturing these would help so many people (and deal with the scaling problem)."


Good overview of some of the problems faced when attempting to train competent programmers. You identify some clear gaps in traditional teaching methods, and make some good proposals on how these gaps can be overcome. Project based learning, in particular, has been of great value to me in in terms of providing sufficient motivation to delve deep into various technologies. There have also been some good games that do exactly what you propose. https://microcorruption.com/ is one of my favorite examples of this. I encourage you to keep exploring this area and hone in on the very specific problem you hope to solve this semester.

Assignment 2 Peer Reviews

I think your subject reaches a general point of weakness. I had one 'shop' type class in my whole time in school. I would have loved to have a hands on type class where I could have done this kind of thing or maybe some other fun stuff. The only class I had was a class where I think the most advanced thing I did was create a car that was a moved by an air cartridge. Having said that, it was only for like half a semester and I never touched another thing like it since then. Having worked in Education, most of the 'shop' type classes seemed to be associated with lower educational students who needed some skills in life because they were not cut out for normal education.

With that, I think if we could have more robot type things involved I think it would be awesome for a lot of people because I am confident that MANY people could do some very basic programming logic, even if its only using the block type programming. So I guess what I am saying is to some degree improving the level of robotics might come down to getting more robotics in schools such that the tools can be more required and then hopefully cheaper.


Cool project focus! I think a small percentage of the class projects will actually focus on generating course content. Because you're so well focused and succinct here I actually don't have too much to say.

It sounds like you have a good understanding of what is and isn't effective in these types of courses. Based on my experience I'd agree that interactive courses tend to be the most effective. But, there's an art to producing constructionist content like this. You need to strike a balance between easy-mode online tools and setting up an intricate development environment on a target computer. Perhaps the latter's a little easier because you can focus on OS X, but it should be a consideration nonetheless.

That, in my opinion, is the crux of success for courses like the one you're proposing. It may even be worth investigating that specific topic more. What, in your experience, is the right level of DIY versus online-editor-type-stuff in courses like this? In every aspect, carefully consider who you're targeting and what type of delivery is most suitable for them.

Overall, it sounds like a great project and I hope you share when you're finished!


I love the idea of bridging the gap in education for kids with lower income --- I am not sure if there are already programs tackling that since I do not have a teaching background.  There are a couple suggestions I could make:

  • organize the reflection around sections for problem definition and potential solutions.
  • add references of utilized literature (so far you have only added one)
  • describe in a little more detail how Scratch and similar tools can solve the problem you are trying to address. You did a pretty good job describing the the potential effect of introducing them to low income communities.  It would be interesting to see in the proposal what exactly are you going to do about them and how far are you going to go?

What do you envision the outcome of the study to be?