Date of Award

Fall 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Michael M. Grant

Second Advisor

Tammi D. Kolski


Although enrollment in online courses continues to accelerate, challenges exist in online learning. A failure to experience collaboration and interaction can impact student retention and success. While peer review activity provides student interaction and the development of a collaborative community of learners, higher education environments have failed to equip students with the knowledge and tools to ensure adept participation. As students offer limited participation and low-quality engagement in routine online peer review activities, the purpose of this action research was to implement and evaluate the impact of a structured online peer evaluation system for Graduate Communication Capstone students at the University of North Coast Muscari (UNCM). An initial research question asked, “How does using a structured peer evaluation system impact the peer review process in an online Graduate Communication Capstone classroom at UNCM?” A second research question sought to discover, “What are the perceptions of students regarding a structured peer evaluation system in support of online asynchronous peer review activity in a Graduate Communication Capstone classroom at UNCM?”

This study incorporated a structured peer evaluation system, including an interactive educational technology peer review tool kit innovation that delivered training, tools, prompts, examples, rubrics, and more. Data collection offered preterm and postterm questionnaires, observational field notes, one-on-one interviews, researcher’s handwritten interview notations, and student post artifacts. Data analysis included quantitative and qualitative approaches as part of a triangulation mixed methods research design, with findings integrated via a convergent process (Mertler, 2017).

As an impact of this research study, the students used the structured peer evaluation system to transform excitement and anxiousness into social and cognitive freedom, producing a focused, responsible approach to peer learning. The study participants’ perceptions included their ability to use the peer review tool kit to experience confidence and empowerment as well as to experience a collaborative community of learners through peer review engagement. This research study offers implications for the continued integration of learning theory into educational technology, the placement of the structured approach earlier in the students’ learning pathway, and the incorporation of additional resources to assist students in overcoming anxiety associated with peer review participation.


© 2020, Karen Larimore Wilkinson