Knowledge Exchange

The Aropä Peer-Review System

I am co-creator and co-leader of the Aropä system (with Dr John Hamer, since 2009) promoting and supporting online peer review activities over multiple institutions and in all subject areas. We influence teaching practise by encouraging a culture of peer-review: we advise users on appropriate peer-review pedagogy and pitfalls, extend the system in response to user requests for feature enhancement, and gather information about successful strategies to share with new users. Users tell us that they choose Aropä over other systems because of its flexibility, usability and responsiveness.


There is also a scholarly dimension: we are in a unique position to observe trends and to comment on peer-review practices. I gave a presentation at the Association for Learning Technology Conference (2016) describing how teachers’ perspectives on peer review activities have changed over the years, and have submitted a paper to Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education which summarises our experiences and observations (“Peer Review in Practise: the Aropä experience”) We have supported 106 academics in 20 intuitions in 9 countries, with 1,160 successful online peer-review assignments. 66 instructors have used the system more than once; 13 are new recruits for 2016. 42,698 students have used the system to write reviews.

In the 2015/6 academic year, 2,075 University of Glasgow students wrote at least one review of their peer’s work (approximately 7.7% of the student body). In 2016, 3,682 University of Auckland students wrote at least one review (approximately 8.5% of the student body).

Use of Aropä over all disciplines (for subjects with more than five classes)

IT Internships for the Third Sector

I initiated the ITI3 internship scheme with the Glasgow University Settlement charity, funding Computing Science students to work in local charities: five ran in 2014-2016; two are planned for 2017. The benefits to both charities and students are clear:

  • “[the project ] ensured a revolutionary change [and has saved] on average, 25 working days a year” (charity)
  • “This project gave me insight into how important the job of a computer scientist is and how many of the problems charities experience can be easily fixed by only a few hard-working students” (student).

I secured funding for ITI3 from the Chancellor’s Fund (£5000), the University Settlement (£7800), and mentors and funding from J.P.Morgan (£3200). I gave a presentation (together with Dr Susan Deely, Social and Political Sciences) on the benefits of student engagement with the third sector at the Scottish QAA Enhancement Themes Conference (2016).

Other activities

I am University of Glasgow representative on the Board of Governors, Morrison’s Academy, and a member of their Education and Finance committees - an important role in promoting the University to prospective students and teachers.