Classroom Stories

We were discussing Performance Management and the class is a vibrant group of young ones. Nearly all of them are fresh graduates pursuing their PGDM

When the subject of peer appraisal came, they could not relate to it, but were asking very provoking and intriguing questions. I thought I will have to demonstrate it in a way that they will appreciate and relate to it.

I told them that there are some marks for them for class participation. While I am supposed to evaluate them, I have difficulty. I cannot remember their names. I do recognize their faces but cannot relate to their names. Also, if I am focussing on evaluating them on a class to class basis, I cannot focus on the subject – and so need their help.

I want them to evaluate one other student for his or her class participation – on his/ her contribution, asking good questions, cooperating/disturbing the class.

Asked them to take a piece of paper and write their names in it. Gave them the option to choose their evaluator with one condition that they cannot swap (and be evaluators for each other). They were not comfortable with this idea. This, I told them an open system. They would prefer a blind system, meaning the evaluator would be chosen at random. So, I collected their papers and distributed them to the students at random.

Asked them to rate the student, (whose paper they have got) on a three-point scale. Three, Two and One stars, and they should give substantiating reason for this. (only on class participation). They did with all enthusiasm.

Once they completed, I asked them if they would like to hand over the papers to the concerned student. To my surprise, they all agreed spontaneously. I am changing the closed system to an open system and they are agreeing. Perhaps, they were warming up to the exercise. Or, were they getting misled? They did it with no hesitation whatsoever.

The students looked at their scores. I asked them if they would agree with this rating or do not? Almost 30 of them (in a class of 33) said yes! That is a huge surprise to me!

However, I doubted that everyone is rated high – with three stars- they everyone would be happy anyway?!
Asked them exactly that. Found that the rating pattern is nearly on a normal distribution. A hand full with 1 star, the majority with 2 stars and a handful with 3 stars. And all of them (almost) are ok with this.

I asked them finally, that this is not a game and I am going to use this data for their marks if they are okay. Unanimously, they said they are okay.

I told them that the atmosphere is good in the class for implementing peer appraisals. Similarly, a good HR Manager would find if the atmosphere and context are conducive in an organization before implementing a full-scale peer appraisal.

Perhaps, they understood peer appraisal, hands-on.

Prof. Dr. D.J.E. Ravi Thilagan
Prof. Dr. D.J.E. Ravi Thilagan, M.B.A., Ph.D
Crescent School of Business

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