introduction to formal peer-evaluation

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The Marking Process: Introduction To Formal Peer-Evaluation


Up to this point, most of you have always been marked or evaluated by others (teachers, parents etc.). As a young adult, learned individual and future professional, you will increasingly be called upon to start evaluating others. As a student, you will sometimes be called upon to evaluate your own performance and that of your peers; as a future tutor or employee, you will also be evaluating people who report to you. In order to introduce you this, we have chosen a peer-evaluation marking process for this assignment. The other key objective is to develop your critical reading skills ;-)

The process

  1. The week after hand-in you will be assigned 6 articles with the associated document links to download these (from Vula) which you to evaluate. You will then have 7 days to in which to read and evaluate these articles.
  2. You assign a grade (mark) from 0 to 10 to each of the assignments, using the marking guide given below as your guideline. The average mark is expected to be 6 or 7, so only award an 8, 9 or 10 if the assignment really merits it. Similarly, do not be afraid to give a 4 or less if an assignment is not worthy of anything more. Giving marks that are too high will penalize your own mark in the validation process. You will also be asked to write one short statement of feedback for each of the papers. In addition, you will be asked to assess your own article using the same scale.
  3. Submit your marks using the exact marks template as given on Vula by [date]
  4. We will consolidate all the marks and calculate an average mark for each of the assignments based on the grades given by your peers (but not including your own mark).
  5. You can only be given a final mark for this assignment when you have completed both processes i.e. submitted your assignment and completed you peer evaluations. Your final mark for this assignment will be the following:
  6. (a) Your Assignment Grade + (b) Your Peer Evaluation Quality + (c) Bonus Mark With:

(a) Your Assignment Grade is the average mark given by your peers (but not including your own mark) (out of a maximum of 10)

(b) Your Peer Evaluation Quality will be based on how well the marks that you gave to the various assignments correspond with their final grades (i.e. the mark given by the other markers). (This will be based primarily on the statistical Pearson correlation coefficient but recalculated out of a maximum of 6 although your short one-liner descriptions will also be taken into account.)

(c) You will be given a bonus mark if you managed to assess yourself to within 1 mark of the average grade awarded by your peers.

Marking Guide:

Marks to be awarded as follows (no half marks allowed)




This assignment is rubbish or unintelligible. The writer should be ashamed to hand this in.


Not worth reading, bad English, bad content.


Content not very good, structure not followed properly (i.e. one of the subheadings is missing), a number of language errors. Too short (less than one page) or too long (more than two pages).


Although sufficient evidence of effort and all of the required subheadings are addressed, this assignment is not of acceptable standard due to lack of detail in content, factual errors or bad language style.


The basic information is there under each of the subheadings, there are no major language issues but the article is not very informative or interesting


Well-written, nice style and good content. Some improvements possible, though.


This is a good article without factual or language errors. It reads nicely and it explains the concept very well.


An excellent article, well above average.


A superb article - written almost professionally and ready to be published.


This article exceeds all expectations - it should form part of next year's course material. Hire this person in the department!

Note that NO marks are to be given for formatting or adding subheadings that are not required. If the English is bad or the information for at least one of the sub-headings is missing, then the assignment cannot get more than 4. If the assignment is too short, it should not get a 5 or more; if it is too long, it should not get a 6 or more.

Digital Storytelling

By Jean-Paul Van Belle (VBLJEA001)

(Example) Assignment for INF1002F.


1. I know that plagiarism is wrong. Plagiarism is to use another's work and pretend that it is one's own.

2. I have used the APA convention for citation and referencing. Each contribution to, and quotation in, this assignment on “Digital Storytelling” from the work(s) of other people has been attributed, and has been cited and referenced.

3. This assignment on “Digital Storytelling” is my own work.

4. I have not allowed, and will not allow, anyone to copy my work with the intention of passing it off as his or her own work.

5. I acknowledge that copying someone else's assignment or essay, or part of it, is wrong, and declare that this is our own work.

6. I hereby release my work under the Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.5 South Africa Licence. (see

Signature: Date: 18 March 2010

Full Name of Student: Jean-Paul Van Belle

Digital Storytelling

By Jean-Paul Van Belle (VBLJEA001)


Digital storytelling uses modern information technologies to revive the old tradition of telling a story of interest about an individual, cause, topic or community. A digital story is quite short, usually lasting between 5 and 10 minutes; and they are often be created by the community or organisation itself. A digital story is a unique and engaging way to tell “your story” to a world-wide internet audience, often generating a significant amount of public relations. In addition, the production of the digital story is often also a great team building exercise which has the added benefit of motivating and uplifting all involved. It is an ideal tool for individuals, NGOs or communities to publicize their cause widely.


A digital story is a story in the form of a short movie that exploits the capabilities of modern computer technologies. Typically it is in the form of video, possibly combined with still images and textual element, with a sound track narrating the story, usually against some background music. The purpose of the story is to share a message of a community, organisation or cause. Therefore it often carries some emotional, personal or engaging content. It can be used to publicize a cause, historical event, or the works of an organisation or for instructional purposes. Although it is sometimes broadcast, it is usually distributed via the internet on the website of an organisation or a video-sharing site. Alternatively, it is made available on video displays or computers in local locations such as museums and libraries.

Benefits & Opportunities

The key benefit of a digital story is that it provides an entertaining and attractive way for sharing your story with a wide, almost unlimited international audience. Once it is on the internet, there are no limits to where your story may travel. How your story is received and how much exposure it will get, depends very much on the creative content as well as the novelty.

Another benefit is that it usually also becomes an extremely engaging and motivating team building exercise that creates a very special spirit among all involved in the production. The people that are featured in the story often feel especially proud to have achieved a certain measure of ‘fame'; but other staff and stakeholders in the organisation often also feel a special kinship with the final story.

Potential Pitfalls And Challenges

People often get carried away with the technologies and special effects but forget that it is actually the content of the story that is the most important. You story should be coherent, engaging and convincing. Don't try and tell too much and have a strong, easy-to-follow storyline. Don't use flashy ‘show-off' effects or try out too many different random transition effects. The technical quality should be sufficient not to distract the reader (or, rather, viewer) from your story but don't spend an inordinate amount of time on getting it ‘perfect'. Rather spend most of your energy up front in creating a nice story board and finding imaginative, creative angles on your content.


In order to produce and publicize a digital story you need three things: a video-capturing device for capturing your content in a digital format, a video-editing computer application to compose and edit your digital story, and a means for publicizing and distributing your digital story. The type of equipment needed depends on the desired quality of your output. If it is for television broadcast purposes, you'll need professional equipment. However, here we assume that you will mainly be targeting an internet-based audience. For a home-made production, an abundant supply of creativity is probably more important than expensive resources. With luck you will need to spend no money at all.

To capture video content, professional digital storytelling producers will use a high-end video although these days even a fairly cheap digital camera will have facilities to capture reasonable quality videos - but make sure that you can record (decent quality) sound and have sufficient camera memory. The quality of a webcam is usually not good enough but it is an alternative. In the worst case, you can even create some dynamic slideshow out of still photographs taken by a cheap camera or scanning in some photographs.

To produce the actual digital story, you need some video-editing software. There is a lot of commercial software available ranging from relatively low-cost to very expensive. Some well-known applications are Ulead VideoStudio, Corel VideoStudio, Pinnacle Studio and Adobe Premiere Elements. But there are even free video-editing software packages available. The easiest to use are probably Microsoft's Movie Maker, Apple iMovie but the more advanced ones such as Avid FreeDV, Wax and Zwei-Stein will give you more effects and capabilities. However, a very creative soul can do a lot with very simple tools - I have even seen some amazing productions made with MS-PowerPoint!

Finally you need to “release” and publicize your digital story. The obvious places are your own website and video-sharing sites such as YouTube. However, don't forget dedicated digital story websites that allow you to upload your own stories or even the websites of regional or industry organisations. You can burn some copies (in an appropriate format) on CD or DVD and send or give it to selected and valued stakeholders; an especially nice “touch” is to create them on the business card format CDs (although it may take some technical skills to reduce the file size sufficiently).


First check that a digital story will work for you: check out the resources and the links below. Then find some great sample stories online to get an idea of the possibilities. Finally, get a few core people in your organisation excited about the concept. Once you have the basics in place, it is time to get started.

Get your core team together to brainstorm the story: it should be short, sweet, personal and convincing. Then send everyone off and give them a few days to play around with various ideas and angles, including possible shots or scenes, other graphic elements, humour, clever lines, possible music, etc. Reconvene a few days later to get agreement on the overall story and then try to develop the “script” for your story, the so-called storyboard. The final storyboard will be a timeline detailing, second-by-second, all the visuals, interview or voice-over lines, music soundtrack and transitions side-by-side in sequential order. Start with a high-level plan because it will take many meetings to emerge with the final detailed version.

Then it is time to acquire the resources and create the required elements. Don't underestimate the amount of work involved but it should all remain a fun and shared experience, don't let it evolve into a battle-ground between egos. Given the right ‘light' touch, you will discover many hidden talents in your organisation! It often turns out much better if the people “on the ground” feature in your story, rather than the owner or managers!

The next phase will involve the editing. Typically this may be driven by someone with some technical experience but it is important to have a creative person by his/her side all the time. Even though your source material is critical, the creative editing will “make or break” the magic of your story. Have one or two intermediate feedback sessions with the participants as well as possible outsiders to give constructive feedback.

Once your final version is ready, go “live” i.e. distribute your story as widely as possible by uploading onto your own and affiliated websites, YouTube and other video-sharing sites and possibly some digital story sites. Then send the links to as many of your contacts as possible and ask them to forward it to their friends (“viral marketing”) - but don't spam and do not attach the large video-file to your email. Use blogs and social networking sites (like Facebook) to publicize and solicit public comments. Load it on computers of your local library and museum. Burn some copies on CD and send to key stakeholders.


If your NGO or community has the potential for some interesting, catching story, a digital story may provide the ideal vehicle to promote and sell your cause not only to your stakeholders but a potentially worldwide audience. In addition, the production of the digital story in itself is a great team building exercise for the project team, it often unleashes some unexpected creative potential from some of your staff and provides the ‘actors' with a great sense of achievement. To top it all, the technical tools and skills required for creating a basic digital story are minimal.

Links gives a great overview and introduction by the University of Houston to digital storytelling from the perspective of educational use. It discusses the essential elements of a story, what makes a good story and the software required. gives some good examples. The BBC has a long-standing history of promoting digital storytelling. “7 things you should know about Digital Storytelling” is a nice, two-page explanation of digital storytelling (in an educational context). gives a short overview and lots of links though mostly to sites with examples. shows you what tools are available and includes some reviews of video editing software. is a digital story website set up for the Scottish community. Also provides a step-by-step online “Storymaker” tool to create your own stories by uploading your own materials. is a nice website explaining and giving examples. provides an online tool (via to create your own digital stories (albeit in an educational context). is the website of the Center for Digital Storytelling which popularised the term and has some great examples. Check out their “cookbook” for a great tutorial guide on how to go about creating your own digital story.