Peer Assessment

Peer Assessment is where students assess the work of other students. This is often undertaken in conjunction with self-assessment and reflection.

Peer assessment often results in feedback from a range of other students as well as requiring students to actively provide feedback on others work.

Educational benefits

  • can enhance students’ engagement with their studies
  • promotes social learning
  • provision of formative feedback
  • develop the capacity to critically evaluate their own and others work and to reconcile conflicting feedback messages
  • augment students’ disciplinary understanding as providing peer feedback invariably requires explanation and justification
  • the process of reviewing the work of others helps students understand what is considered good work and why, thereby increasing their ability to achieve
  • promote and provide evidence of the development of generic skills and attributes including: working cooperatively; thinking critically; giving constructive feedback; learning from critical appraisal received from others; managing one’s own learning autonomously; developing interpersonal skills; and developing an awareness of group dynamics

Challenges

  • the peer assessment process needs careful preparation to ensure it does not undermine the spirit of collaboration fostered by group work, by setting individuals up in competition with each other for marks
  • if the task does not contribute towards summative grades, students may undervalue its significance for their learning and avoid seriously engaging with the process
  • if the task does count toward summative grades, it can raise social tensions and issues of loyalty. Students can be reluctant to criticise their peers; recipients may not consider peer feedback to be sufficiently objective
  • many students don’t believe they have the expertise necessary to give feedback on the work of their peers. Or they may feel that the “expert” opinion of the tutor is more valuable that the opinion of a peer
  • may provide opportunities for plagiarism

Author: Chones, Source: Shutterstock (UNE)

Tips

  • consider a course wide approach which commences with simple review tasks (asking students to summarise the work of others or to make a suggestion for improvement) and works towards increasing complexity and depth in later stages
  • consider tasks which ask students to suggest improvement, or highlight an issue or perspective that has not been addressed.
  • provide a task that is challenging and likely to generate a range of responses (if the task is too simple, peer feedback is likely to becoming tedious and reduce in value for both parties)
  • group students and set different tasks to each so that submission and review are on different topics
  • factor the time required for review into the task, and be clear about deadlines
  • provide (or assist students to develop) specific and clear criteria for the task
  • provide an opportunity for rehearsal
  • attach meaningful marks to the task
  • to gain maximum learning benefit, it is better not to use peers as surrogate markers
  • reduce the opportunities for plagiarism by allowing students to review others and self-reflect on their own assignments without the opportunity to rewrite.

References

Nicol, D. (2011). Developing the Students’ Ability to Construct Feedback. Gloucester: Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.enhancementthemes.ac.uk/docs/publications/developing-students-ability-to-construct-feedback.pdf?sfvrsn=30.

Last modified: Friday, 12 February 2016, 12:36 PM