Self and Peer Assessment

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What is Self and Peer Assessment?

While there are many variations of definitions on self and peer assessment in the literature, the concise definitions of self and peer assessments are:

Self-Assessment:

Students judge and make decisions about their own work against certain criteria.

Peer-Assessment:

Students judge and make decisions about the work of their peers against certain criteria.

Why should we care about (or implement) Self and Peer Assessment?

Some of the opportunities and challenges identified in the literature are:

Opportunities:
  • Self and peer assessment develops:
    • Better judgement of their own/peers’ work against certain criteria (Boud et al 2013)
    • Team work, collaboration, communication skills (Wu et al 2011)
    • Reflective and critical thinking skills (Somervell 1993; Mello 1993)
    • Equip students for the real work/world via authentic assessment (Boud et al 2013; Willey & Freeman 2006)
  • It helps students better understand assessment criteria/rubric (Yucel et al 2014)
  • It encourages students to be in the active learning mode = not always “to be assessed”, but as “assessors”  (Brindley & Scoffield 1998)
  • It maintains the level of student learning without more input from staff (Boud et al 1999)
Challenges:
  • It requires (potentially large) amount of training before students can start assessing themselves and others as self and peer assessment is an unfamiliar concept. Students will require adequate support and guidance.
  • Skills of self and peer assessment take some time for students to acquire – needs to be scaffolded over time.
  • It is paramount that high quality assessment criteria and/or rubrics are implemented and that students understand how to interpret the criteria. Criteria/rubrics can be created by teaching staff or with the involvement of students.
Deakin contexts

Deakin University has a range of Graduate Learning Outcomes (GLOs) designed for students to achieve and demonstrate through their course work. In particular, the four GLOs that have close relations to self and peer assessment are:

GLO2 Communication: by students giving and receiving written and sometimes verbal feedback to/from other peers, students engage with what entails as good communication in a way of providing/receiving feedback.
GLO4 Critical thinking: requires analysis and evaluation of information to validate a conclusion. It can be addressed when students are asked to use critical thinking skills to make judgements about themselves and their peers based on criteria.
GLO6 Self-management: especially when students engage with self-assessment of their work, this activity requires critical components of self-management such as self-guidance and training.
GLO7 Team work: essential for life-long learning and problem-solving to develop shared understandings and bring together diverse talents and disciplines. It can be addressed when students are required to work in teams and assess themselves and others on team contribution skills/knowledge. Such assessment designs encourage students to be able to work collaboratively and effectively as part of team.
Engagement with academics and some existing research suggest that these learning outcomes are increasingly important but something that academics can find challenging to include as part of their teaching design.
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