Peer assessment ideas
22nd March 2018
Peer assessment is the process by which students grade and mark their peers’ work. At first, this can be an unusual concept to consider as this is traditionally seen as a teacher’s role. There may also be a concern that students will automatically give the highest grades to their friends.
Peer assessment needs to be managed closely with a great deal of thought and planning in order for it to succeed. There is a growing amount of research that highlights the benefits of peer assessment for students, so it can certainly be worth the effort.
What are the benefits of peer assessment?
By taking part in peer assessment, students can gain:
The opportunity to talk, explain and challenge school topics
A more rewarding learning experience - as they are more engaged with what they are learning
Strong interpersonal skills
Self-reflection on their own learning
Ownership of the marking process
The skills needed to cooperate
Critical thinking skills
The skills needed to give constructive feedback
For peer assessment to work, it is vital to create a caring, non-threatening environment where damaging or unpleasant comments will not be allowed.
Tips on effectively managing peer assessment in the classroom
Teach your students how to provide feedback
It can be daunting for a child to judge another child’s work. It is important to focus on positive comments in the main, with one suggested area of improvement. For example, you could tell the children to find three things about the work that are good and one suggestion for improvement.
You can have an awards system in place where the children give each other awards when they think that the work is particularly good, such as a school pencil or a star badge once a project or topic is complete The children with the most positive peer feedback throughout the term could be awarded a bigger prize at the end of the year or term such as an achievement trophy. Students who have been especially encouraging and thoughtful with their feedback and assessment could also be awarded with a badge or medal.
Develop the marking process with your students
If you ask your class to come up with the marking process criteria you will immediately involve them and get them to understand how complex it can be. They will also be able to put the criteria into their own words which they find easy to understand - which may bring up things you might not have thought of.
Use anonymous work
By using anonymous work to mark, for example a previous year’s unnamed work, you can take away the stress of your students marking their own class. This means that they will learn by assessing others’ work, but they don’t have to show their own if they are self-conscious.
Put care and consideration into which student’s work they mark
If students see work that they think is much better than theirs, this may demotivate them. Try to mix up the work and give them work where the ability of the other student is similar to their own.
Give your students set frameworks to follow
Try a feedback sandwich - one positive comment and one piece of constructive criticism sandwiched by another positive comment.
Teach your students about the importance of using positive language, such as:
• ‘I like this…. (specifying what it is exactly), but have you thought about this…?’
• ‘What made you use this colour/ word/ decide on this answer/ come to this conclusion….?’
• ‘ The best part of this painting / story/poem/ project is….’
Don’t rush the process
It is important not to rush your students. If the work requires more than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, give each student time to digest and consider the work before responding. This isn’t something you can do at the end of the school day when time is finite and your students are tired.
Work in pairs or small groups
You can divide your class into discussion groups to talk about the positive feedback. Providing your students with a board they can write on can help them brainstorm and relate back to the marking criteria.