Crowdsourcing as a novel approach to teaching and supporting critical appraisal

The CrowdCARE web platform teaches and nurtures appraisal skills that underpin enquiry-based learning and evidence-based practice.

The CrowdCARE web platform was developed collaboratively by Learning Environments and the Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences (MDHS). It teaches and nurtures appraisal skills that underpin enquiry-based learning and evidence-based practice. In consists of a set interactive tutorial modules, an article search mechanism, a novel article rating system and a dynamic set of components that use gamification to encourage continued participation.

At its heart, it is an evidence database that contains ratings of quality for clinical research studies. It is distinct from other disciplineā€specific evidence databases (e.g. PEDro, PsychBITE, speechBITE) in two key areas:

  • The ratings in the CrowdCARE database are crowdsourced (from trained users, including students, health practitioners and academic experts), rather than from paid experts. In this way, CrowdCARE improves over time and is self-supporting.
  • There are no discipline boundaries within CrowdCARE.

The tutorial system lets students engage with actual article ratings from the database to immediately exercise their ratings skills and compare theirs with experts’.

After completing the tutorials, students can appraise any study of interest, and thus contribute their own ratings to the database. Once an appraisal is submitted, a student can compare their appraisal to those from other users (students, practitioners and/or experts) for the same study.

Users who have not completed the tutorial can use CrowdCARE to search for articles and view their ratings. As such, CrowdCARE provides valuable information about the quality and usefulness of an article. The following screenshot shows an example search result.

CrowdCARE uses gamification to help users maintain their momentum in rating articles. It does this in several different ways:

  1. Each user has a 'trophy cabinet' with different trophies awarded based on achievements,
  2. Promotion from Novice to Expert, for raters who achieve a certain progress criteria,
  3. A global leaderboard shows the top 20 Novice, Expert and Overall users,
  4. CrowdCARE bears. A limited edition CrowdCARE Bear soft toy is offered to the first 75 people to complete 25 ratings.

The development of CrowdCARE was funded by a Learning and Teaching Initiative (LTI) grant. It won the 2018 MDHS Award for Learning and Teaching Excellence.

For further information about CrowdCARE or for enquiries about web development, contact Learning Environments.

Project team

From Optometry:

From Learning Environments:

  • David Vasjuta
  • Gavin Leys
  • Gordon Yau.

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