Comments from users

Below are some comments from both instructors and students who’ve used CPR.

What faculty say

The students in this study described PW-PR [CPR problem-based writing with peer review] as a good tool for learning. Other collaborative and investigative tools for college science teaching were also used for both experimental and control instruction in this study. The cooperative group activities, concept maps, case studies or problem-based activities, and on-line simulations or visualizations that were used in this study are gaining recognition as effective modes of instruction. However, when asked in an open question what worked best to help them learn important concepts in physiology, PW-PR was listed as an effective tool more often than any other tool.
— N. Pelaez, Biology, California State University, Fullerton
I just had two students in my office hours. After asking me questions about the reports and about the midterm, they said thank you that I gave them the second CPR assignment on the buffer system (the one with carbonic acid and bicarbonate). They said they learned so much about buffers compared to their previous lecture in which they simply did calculations on pH, pKa and pKb. They said they never learned in depth about buffers and how they work until now.
— J.W. Pang, Chemistry, UCLA
Comparing instruction on earthquakes and plate boundaries using a CPR assignment vs. an instructional video lecture and homework essay with extensive instructor feedback, students mastered more content via CPR instruction. Although some students recognized the learning potential of completing CPR assignments, many expressed great concern; accordingly CPR as an instructional approach requires careful implementation by instructors in assuring students that they do have the ability to think critically and evaluate peer writing about the topics in the course and that the instructor can and will intercede at any time if students feel that their work was not appropriately reviewed. Instructors attempting to incorporate writing assignments to develop these skills in large, introductory science courses face a daunting logistic challenge. This study indicates that CPR can not only develop content understanding but also provide early training for large numbers of science students in writing, peer review and self-assessment. Thus, CPR offers geoscience instructors a tool for building the professional skills of future scientists but also addressing the call in the National Science Education Standards for greater communication and explanation by students in science courses.
— C. Cervato, Geology, Iowa State University
Statistical analyses of three assignments by 50 students indicated significant differences between CPR and TA feedback on student writing quality. In addition, while scores of students who received TA feedback decreased, scores of students who had CPR improved. Students also progressed in CPR-generated measures of their writing and reviewing abilities. A separate analysis including 256 students found no significant differences between males and females. In addition, students’ writing showed statistically significant improvement.
— Y. Hartberg, Biochemistry, Texas A&M University
From our preliminary work, CPR is proving a very effective tool for presenting an engineering design process, teaching multi-staged writing, encouraging students to develop higher-order reasoning processes, and capturing student outcome data. Additional research and data analysis is underway which better frame the effectiveness of CPR as a tool for ABET. Finally, CPR was effectively used along with other assessment tools to demonstrate outcomes assessment for the Electrical and Computer Engineering programs at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
— P. Carlson, Humanities and Social Sciences, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Despite student critiques of the program, I still recommend the CPR program as an excellent resource for incorporating more writing, peer review, and critical thinking into an undergraduate neuroscience curriculum. Results of the student evaluations indicate that CPR fostered a multi-dimensional comprehension of the course material while teaching traditionally underserved academic skills: science writing and peer review.
— J.R. Prichard, Psychology and Neuroscience, Bates College
Calibrated Peer Review not only motivates students to write well, but it can engage their curiosity about how other students answered the writing prompt. These are two sides of the same coin; students realize that other students will be reading their essays and that they will be reading other student essays, and, for me, this has improved the quality of student writing. Perhaps it is because students will be reviewed by their peers, albeit anonymously; they seem to polish the essays more than if they were handing the essays in to me to score. Presenting either an unfamiliar technology for learning or a new peer review process to a class can be tricky, and presenting CPR to a class requires that the instructor do both. I have discovered that the way I introduce CPR in my courses is very important. My approach is to very quickly present Bloom’s Taxonomy of cognitive behaviors using the original pyramid diagram found at While there are newer formulations of Bloom’s Taxonomy and other related taxonomies, I have found nothing that more clearly illustrates the value of writing and evaluation to my students. Nonetheless, CPR opens new possibilities for introducing writing into large section courses and has a number of unique tools to help students learn course content, writing skills within a discipline, and valuable evaluation skills.
— S. Balfour, Psychology, Texas A&M University
Calibrated Peer Review is a well-developed educational tool with potential for many applications in medical education. Students have commented that they feel the program was helpful in preparing for the note-writing portion of USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills. CPR is well suited to content areas such as evidence-based medicine and to settings where students are at different and distant sites, or when large groups of students make individual faculty feedback difficult. Emphasizing evaluation, the CPR program standardizes faculty effort while reinforcing informed and accurate peer- and self-review of patient notes.
— T. McCarty, Medicine, University of New Mexico

What students say

By writing this assignment in a mini-essay form I was able to come at my own conclusions and express the material in my words. I believe that this was very helpful because in order to understand the material, it is extremely useful to be able to describe and put the material one learned into his/her own words.
I have never viewed chemistry as being a subject where you write things.
Calibrated Peer Review forces the student to look into the topic way more closer [sic] than what he or she would do out of a textbook. I know the CPR has tremendously helped me understand each topic better although I didn’t exactly enjoy it so much.
I thought the idea of CPR was a very good idea because it helped expanding students’ knowledge and developing insight into the materials we had studied. However, I didn’t really enjoy this project. I didn’t like it because there was too much research involved and questions were very hard to answer. This project itself was time consuming as well. It took me a long time to finish the practice before I moved onto the actual project. Another time-consuming part was the peer reviewing. It took me about an average of 10 minutes each to review one paper. It required a lot of concentration as well.
I thought CPR to be good learning tool. The project made the participants review the course material. As a result a better understanding of the material is attained. It’s like having two lectures instead of one. Making an environment where students have to think is a good way to make the material understandable.