In Day 1 of this course, we looked at why peer assessment can be valuable, and the different types. Today, we will explore how to best prepare students to undertake peer assessment, and look at the common issues faced when bringing peer evaluation into a course.
Here are some of the issues to take into account when preparing students for peer assessment and feedback:
Peer assessment and feedback can be new experiences for some students, who may not have the pre-existing skills and knowledge to constructively engage in peer assessments and feedback.
Students can also be concerned about how relevant and meaningful peer assessment is to their overall learning.
Likewise, the lecturer or tutor may also be concerned that students will reject the idea of peer assessment and feedback due to previous experiences or pre-existing perceptions.
There is some social risk for students, even if it’s a low weight assessment or feedback task. For instance, the psychological impact of assessment by multiple peers can be amplified by repetition and the inability to question the assessors.
Likewise, some people may feel awkward or embarrassed in presenting to peers or sharing their work.
Peer assessment has been used with an enormous variety of students, however differences between students in a class can affect their readiness for peer assessment.
For instance, how can peer assessment work if students are:
- New to the program
- New to university
- New to the country
- Inexperienced in the language
How may the assessment be affected if a student is:
- In the same long-term project team
- From a different language, nation, culture, gender, major, or socio-economic background
- More successful, privileged or popular
- Related or in a household or relationship
- A person with a disability
- Unpleasant, disengaged or uncooperative
How can we prepare students to undertake peer assessment?
1. Create an environment of trust
- Explain the purpose of the assessment or feedback task and most importantly, highlight the benefits of peer assessment and feedback.
- Acknowledge and plan for students’ feelings around being assessed by peers. For instance, you could provide tips and model how to give and receive constructive feedback. Read UTS’s guide for more info.
- Give students multiple opportunities to practice first before making it assessable, and ask for feedback regularly.
Want to know more? Check out our espresso course on Fostering Student Wellbeing.
2. Create a plan
Good planning and design will go a long way to creating a successful peer assessment process. This includes:
- setting up clear expectations, objectives and learning outcomes of the peer assessment process
- being explicit with the assessment criteria being used (if applicable)
- starting with low stakes (or zero stakes) assessment. Many practitioners recommend a zero-weight practice assessment followed by guided reflection, to uncover and correct misunderstandings of procedure, and to soften student oversensitivity to feedback.
Other things to consider:
- What assessment task and/or activities is it appropriate for?
- Summative or formative? (i.e. Should it count towards the grade or not?)
- Open or anonymous?
- Use online tools?
Want to know more?
- What has your experience of being reviewed or assessed by a peer like? Has it been positive or negative (or both)? What might have helped improve your own experience?
- When do you think is a good time to introduce students to the concept of peer assessment and feedback in a course and/or during their study program/degree?
- What considerations would be most important to you when preparing for a peer assessment or feedback task?
- Rotsaert, T., Panadero, E. & Schellens, T. Eur J Psychol Educ (2018) Anonymity as an instructional scaffold in peer assessment: its effects on peer feedback quality and evolution in students’ perceptions about peer assessment skills, 33: 75. DOI: 10.1007/s10212-017-0339-8