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Students’ assessment of each other

October 20, 2008

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Student assessment of other students' work encourages them to become more closely involved in the quality and content of their own performance. While the teacher assesses...

...from a position of power and tends to seem to be all-knowing, peer assessment brings in the element of inter-student understanding of the complexity of the task. Thus, the process should begin at the point when tasks are devised and criteria established. If students are involved in these they can develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between achievement and assessment.

Self and peer-assessment are useful when linked as, by judging the work of others, students learn about their own performance. Take a student who consistently forgets the –s in the third person, present simple tense. When s/he sees a co-student using it correctly, s/he sees the error in his or her own work. This is a moment of self-realisation that can be missing when teacher’s give routine corrections. "Peer and self-assessment help students develop the ability to make judgements, a necessary skill for study and professional life" (Brown, Rust and Gibbs, 1994).

Self and peer assessment can:
• improve motivation,
• help students take responsibility for their own learning,
• See assessment as part of learning, so that mistakes are part of the process and not seen as failures
• develop evaluation skills,
• encourage deep rather than surface learning.

Peer assessment is not a replacement for the teacher’s assessment but an adjunct. It needs to be introduced with care as students may feel inhabited about showing their work to their peers and critiquing the work of others. It could be started as an anonymous exercise so that students do not know who gave the feedback. Then move to small groups giving feedback to each other. As the process gains momentum, the learners can decide for themselves how thy wish to do it.

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  1. Roger Says:

    Brenda's piece deserves to be read by all English teachers out there. In point of fact I have been taking this road for years and can therefore credibly say it should be practised in all classes!

    This is especially true of China. Why? Here students fail to acquire any meaningful degree of AUTONOMY. Their teachers not just mark their essays, they even correct them. Consequence? Students don't learn to identify mistakes on their own. Mistakes get internalised and fossilised.

    But roping in students as co-monitors over their peers has numerous advantages. They have to accept responsibility for mistakes made by others. They can better communicate their instructions and observations to each other. They learn to find strengths and weaknesses in themselves. Finally, if the teacher still splashes a pool of red ink over a paper a peer has 'marked', they learn to pay attention to the lessons on grammar, spelling and syntax.

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