In peer assessment, a collaborative learning technique, students evaluate each other’s work. This technique is often used as a learning tool, which gives students feedback on the quality of their work, often with ideas and strategies for improvement. At the same time, evaluating peers’ work can enhance the evaluators’ own learning and self-confidence. Such an involvement personalizes the learning experience, potentially motivating continued learning.
When used in grading, peer assessment can give the teacher the much needed information on each student’s performance. For large online classes, it may allow inclusion of assignments where students’ creative work could not be graded reliably through automation or efficiently by teaching staff.
Peer assessment techniques vary considerably, and are often best understood through example. To give effective, valid and reliable feedback to fellow learners, students need clear guidelines, training on assessment criteria and scoring rules, and practice with examples. Before students are ready to give feedback to others, their assessments should be compared to staff-grading of the same examples for quality assurance.
How does peer assessments help students?
- It engages students in the learning process
- 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
Strategies for peer assessment
- Make it clear for students to understand why they are being involved in such a task
- Criteria for peer assessment needs to be set out clearly
- Develop peer assessment skills
- Make it anonymous
Complement peer assessment processes with a formal and explicitly stated moderation process so that students can see that grading is reliable even while students have a significant role in it.
To ensure that students reflect critically and early during a large, summative assessment task such as a report or essay:
- Use cluster groups
- Have students present to their group a short draft of their work to date
- Ask the group to give informal feedback to their peers on their progress
- You can also have the group provide a formal assessment based on, for example, how well points are supported by evidence, as well as the style and presentation of the draft.