I was wondering if there is any benefit to having undergraduate students swap homework and quizzes and grading them, with solutions that I provide.

I was thinking it might be helpful for them to compare another student's, or their own, solutions to my own, so that they can better learn how to write a solution, or maybe see different ways of coming to the same solution.

I teach undergraduate math classes that have the students learning how to do proofs, and I was thinking it might be helpful for them to do this.

I haven't tried this yet, which is why I was wondering if this is beneficial or detrimental.

  • $\begingroup$ What level? K-12, undergraduate? $\endgroup$
    – Chris C
    May 4, 2016 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ Undergraduate, I'll edit my post to clarify. $\endgroup$
    – Felix Y.
    May 4, 2016 at 21:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think the most benefit will come from the quickness of feedback. Feedback is very important and this provides virtually immediate feedback on whether a student is doing something correctly or not. $\endgroup$
    – Jared
    May 5, 2016 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ It might also be beneficial in proof based classes. $\endgroup$
    – Chris C
    May 5, 2016 at 3:23
  • $\begingroup$ Instant feedback could be provided by collecting the exams and providing an answer key immediately. $\endgroup$ May 13, 2016 at 7:08

2 Answers 2


A benefit that can be expected is to help student realize how important it is to write mathematics in a language (e.g. English; French in my case). I have often been confronted by students who considered I was being unduly demanding about sentences, correct use of « therefore » or $\implies$, etc. in my grading. I think that having to grade their peers (who will write about as poorly as they do at first) will help them realize how essential it is for the writer to be precise, if he or she wants the reader to be able to get what he or she means.

This feeling is backed up somewhat indirectly by the reports written by students who took a one-month internship in a high school, where they observed a teacher, then assisted her or him, including by grading an exam. They were amazed to realize that the poorly written exams made them want to scream to the pupils that they should write things properly if they want to get those damn points!


Teaching good peer review skills is a very noble goal. I'm all for it.

The students need to step back from their own point of view to be able to follow the path their peer took. You could start the students with simple problems of type "calculate ..." where about the only kind of error is "wrong number" or "dropped a minus". Repeated exposure to these tasks will help them later when they work on more complex problems, or when they need to check their own work to find out why that solution is so impossibly far off the target that there must be an error in the calculation leading to it.

I wish that would be taught much earlier than "undergraduate".


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