One of the ways in which learners are able to engage with the quality of their work is by evaluating the work of their peers. However, if they are to offer helpful feedback, learners must have a clear understanding of what they are to look for in their peers' work. The teacher must explain expectations clearly to them before they begin.

One way to make sure learners understand this type of assessment is to give them a practice session with it. The teacher provides a sample of a learner's work. As a group, learners determine what should be assessed and how criteria for the task should be defined. Learners assess this using the criteria they have developed, and determine how to convey feedback clearly to the fictitious learner.

Learners will also benefit from using rubrics or checklists to guide their assessments. At first these can be provided by the teacher; once the learners have more experience, they can develop them themselves.

For peer evaluation to work effectively, the learning environment in the classroom must be supportive. Learners must feel comfortable and trust one another in order to provide honest and constructive feedback. Teachers who use group work and peer assessment frequently can help learners develop trust by forming them into small groups early on and having them work in the same groups throughout the term. This allows them to become more comfortable with each other and leads to better peer feedback. Peer assessment is an important part of formative assessment that should take place, especially in group work where it becomes a way in which the group assesses itself.

Things to consider

  • In order to peer assess effectively learners need to be taught the skills;
  • Peer assessment can suffer from "friendship factors", especially if marks are involved - friends may get an inflated assessment and some peers may even suffer discrimiation;
  • Using of multiple assessors is likely to improve the assessment process, by improving consistency;
  • Gender and culture will affect the way in which students assess each other

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