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About CritViz.com

CritViz was created by Professor David Tinapple, and Professor Loren Olson who co-direct the Learning Environments Research Group in the School of Arts, Media & Engineering, at Arizona State University. 

We started asking a simple question: "Can we design a system that makes critique possible in a bigger classroom?" 

This led to a bigger question: "How can we structure a classroom to get better as it gets bigger?"

We created CritViz because we teach computational creativity in large project-based classes, and needed a better way to manage the process of formative peer-review. It had a sudden and dramatic impact on our classes and soon our experiment spread across the university to engineering, music, english, and even the math department.

Currently there are around 2000 users (students and instructors) of CritViz across roughly 100 courses at ASU, and other universities in the US and Europe. We have a team of affiliated researchers at ASU and internationally who have used CritViz from an early stage, and who have collaborated with us on design and research.

What is CritViz?

CritViz is web-based software designed to help university instructors implement peer review in online and in-person classrooms, particularly in larger classes where this might otherwise be difficult or impossible. A critique, (or “crit”) well known to art and design classrooms, is a type of peer-review where the focus is on generating formative peer support, rather than on summative peer “grading”. Research has shown that giving peer feedback can benefit learning as much or more than the receiving of feedback (Lundstrom, 2009).

CritViz was designed with the premise that students can benefit greatly from the practice of giving and receiving critical feedback from peers, and that this is true not only for classes in the arts and design, but in almost any class on any topic. Studies have shown that not only do students perform better under peer review but they exhibit increased higher level skills, increased intrinsic motivation, reduced anxiety, and better self regulation (Liu, 2001). This can hold especially true in classes where students are asked to do work that is project-based, complex, collaborative, and creative.

Peer assessment, peer review, and peer tutoring are by no means new in education. In fact they have been employed in various ways for hundreds of years, and today are not uncommon in higher education. (Topping 2003). However, while many studies indicate that peer assessment can result in high-quality, highly reliable feedback, and peer review has shown positive formative effects on students attitudes, behavior and motivation (Topping 1998), the practical implementation of peer-review in real classrooms is difficult and does not scale well to large classrooms. CritViz makes implementing peer review easy, and scalable to large classrooms.

How Does CritViz Work?

CritViz was designed to facilitate peer-critique in a way that scales well and works for small or large classes. It does this by defining a basic critique structure and then distributing critique workload evenly across students. 

1. In CritViz, an instructor creates a "Course", which just like a typical course, is a collection of enrolled students and one or more instructors and assistants. Only students enrolled in the course have access to the material.

Instructors and Assistants are able to create "Assignments" and "Critique Assignments" for the students.

An “Assignment”  consist of a description (including any supporting documents, links, readings), a deadline (after which the assignment is closed), and one or more "Questions" which are specific tasks, requirements, or parts of that assignment. 

Once at least one “Assignment” has been completed, instructors can create a “Critique Assignment”, which is similar to an assignment (description, deadline, questions) but different in that a “Critique Assignment” also specifically references the work created in a prior “Assignment”

In configuring the “Critique Assignment”, the instructor must select which “Assignment” the students will critique as well as how many works each student will be asked to provide feedback on. CritViz then assigns each student those works to critique, ensuring and even and random distribution of critique work.

The students see the works they have been assigned and for each one answer the "critique questions" the instructor has designed. These questions might be as simple as free-form text responses, but can also take the form of rankings (putting the selected works in rank order, ratings (assigning a rating score to each work) or file uploads (editing and re-uploading any file that might be part of the work being critiqued).

The CritViz critique model is currently non-reciprocal, in that students are not put into review groups where each member of the group reviews each other member. Rather, each student in the course is assigned a one-way critique of a variable number of other peers in the course.

Who is the CritViz Team?

CritViz is designed and created by Professor David Tinapple, and Professor Loren Olson at the School of Arts, Media & Engineering, at Arizona State University. David is the main designer, and Loren is the main programmer. Our time is spent not only designing and maintaining the tool, but also trying it out in our own classrooms, finding out right away what works and what doesn't, and how certain features impact the teaching and learning in our classes.

We have a close network of affiliated researchers at ASU and internationally who have used CritViz from an early stage, and on whom we rely for thoughtful feedback and design ideas.

CritViz Creators

David Tinapple

David is Assistant Professor in the school of Arts, Media & Engeineering (AME) at Arizona State Univeristy. David co-directs the Learning Environments research group, where faculty and students invent new ways to harness emerging technologies that enable collaborative learning and prepare students for an increasingly dynamic world. David helped design the Digital Culture degree program at ASU, an experimental engineering-arts curriculum that combines competency-based education and interdisciplinary training for the next generation of cultural practitioners. David is designer and co-creator of CritViz.com

Loren Olson

Loren is Assistant Clinical Professor in the school of Arts, Media & Engeineering (AME) at Arizona State Univeristy. Loren is the programmer and co-designer of CritViz. Loren's background is in animation and effects for film and television, and media systems for education. Loren co-directs the Learning Environments research group, where faculty and students invent new ways to harness emerging technologies that enable collaborative learning and prepare students for an increasingly dynamic world.

CritViz Research Affiliates

Keith Hjelmstad

Keith Hjelmstad is Professor of Computational Mechanics in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU. Dr. Hjelmstad has published extensively in the area of structural engineering, computational mechanics, structural stability, and simulation of complex systems. Formerly Keith spent 25 years at the University of Illinois in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering prior to moving to Arizona State University to engage in a fascinating opportunity to change the fortunes of engineering education in a startup college called the College of Technology and Innovation.

Thomas Seager

Dr. Thomas P. Seager is an Associate Professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment and leads a research group of scientists, engineers and students dedicated to creating new knowledge to make infrastructure safer and more resilient.

Dr. Cornelius Pöpel

Cornelius Pöpel is professor for audio producing at the University of Applied Sciences Ansbach, Germany. His research interests lie in music, in general aspects of the relation between men and machines, in sound synthesis, sound processing, and in creating new string player based interfaces for musical expression.

Betsy Schneider

Associate Professor, Arizona State University. Visiting Associate Professor, Harvard University. Schneider is a photographer and filmmaker who explores and documents transformations of individuals and families over time and place. She holds a BA from the University of Michigan, a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an MFA from Mills College in Oakland, California. 

Sarah Tracy

Professor of organizational communication and qualitative research methodology in The Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University. Sarah researches emotion, communication, and identity in the workplace with particular expertise in qualitative research design, data collection, and analysis.

Luke Kautz

Luke Kautz is an Instructor and Digital Design Fabrication Specialist in the school of Arts, Media & Engineering at Arizona State University.  Having worked as an architectural designer in the offices of Frank Gehry, to his interest in both traditional and digital fabrication, he seeks to develop and expand the studio teaching environment through CritViz.