Peer assessment is an informal or formal arrangement where students determine the value, quality or sometimes success of work produced by fellow students. It can often be as useful to the giver as to the receiver.
Formal summative peer assessment has an impact on student marks and grades, which in turn contribute to programme outcomes. Informal peer assessment is where students provide feedback to other students about their peers’ formative or low stakes assessments. This feedback can be used by the students to improve/amend their work and has short– and long-term impact.
Below are some advantages for peer assessment and guidelines for setting up a peer assessment task.
Advantages of Peer Assessment
- Gives students greater insight into the marking/feedback process
- Encourages a shared understanding of standards
- Helps to identify common mistakes and misunderstandings
- Promotes meta-cognitive and other personal and professional transferable skills
- Allows for reflective comparison when giving feedback to others.
- Allows comments on a similar level – sometimes more understandable than meta-language used by teachers
- Increases quantity and variety of feedback
- Encourages critical reading and text analysis in providing feedback
- Encourages students to see reviewing as an active and self-regulatory process
General Good Practice
- Communicate that peer assessment’s purpose is to enhance and deepen student learning.
- Make it clear to students how their engagement with peer assessment will affect their work (this can be a formal mark or an informal formative assessment leading into the summative).
- Discuss what good feedback might entail. This is generally useful for students as it allows them insight into the marking and feedback process from the university point of view.
- Help the students to identify the elements in a good or poor piece of work. Depending on your group, you may be able to co-design peer assessment criteria with the students based on this exercise.
- Establish working guidelines (rules, etiquette) and communicate these to the students beforehand. Depending on your group, you may be able to come up with negotiated guidelines that are student-led.
- Tackle unfair marking both tactfully and promptly to ensure that all students feel safe in participating in this activity.
Falchikov, N. (2006) Improving Assessment Through Student Involvement: Routledge Falmer; Oxon.
Magin, D. & Helmore, P. (2001) Peer and teacher assessments of oral presentations: how reliable are they? Studies in Higher Education 26: 287-298.
Rodríguez MF, Nussbaum M, Yunis L, Reyes T, Alvares D, Joublan J, Navarrete P. (2022). Using scaffolded feedforward and peer feedback to improve problem-based learning in large classes. Computers and education. 182.
Van der Meer J, Scott S. (2013). Including everyone : a peer learning program that works for under-represented minorities? The international journal of the first year in higher education. 4:85–94.