Self and peer assessment: feedback and learning
Relying on all feedback to be teacher driven places a serious limit on the amount of feedback a
learner is able to receive.
Peer and self assessment are invaluable strategies for increasing the amount of
feedback that a learner can obtain, and the act of peer and self assessment
supports the value seen through specifying goals and making success criteria
Further gains from adopting self and peer assessment in the classroom are the advantages that
learners gain from discovering that mistakes can be avoided, that improvements are possible, and
that achievement is not a consequence of innate ability but on well-directed efforts. These are
serious outcomes that, if learned well, set up learners for life.
Marzano (2003) ascribes an effect size of d=0.63 to peer assessment and d=0.54 to self
assessment. These could conceivably be much larger if the peer or self assessment process
followed by the learner involved the identification of medals and the setting of missions.
A comprehensive review by Sebba et al (2008) at the University of London’s EPPI-Centre found
evidence for self and peer assessment having a range of positive impacts on learners in UK
Training learners to self and peer-assess
Learners are not instant experts in self and peer assessment- they need to be trained in the skill,
and younger learners need to be set a few ‘ground rules’ to prevent them from being merciless in
their criticisms! Dweck’s work on Mindset emphasizes the importance of strategies that avoid
mistakes being linked to a learner’s idea of their fundamental ability- comments from peers need
to be emotionally supportive.
Clarke (2005) details a three step ‘success and improvement’ marking strategy that has met with
considerable success in the training of learners:
Students identify their own succeses in their work by identifying where they have met
explicit success criteria. They underline or highlight in some way such successes, and
discussion is used to share them with other learners.
Students identify a place for improvement against the success criteria. Again, this area
is highlighted in some way in their work, and the teacher writes an improvement target.
Students identify their successes and make an ‘on the spot’ improvement. These
improvements can be undertaken individually, or could lead on from paired discussions on
what the improvement could be.
Self and peer assessment using pro formas and explicit success criteria
An example of students using self and peer assessment to guide their work on
the Extended Project Qualification can be seen at www.myextendedproject.com.
Students had previously spent lesson time translating the exam board
assessment objectives into student-speak success criteria. They then produced
vidcasts outlining their approaches to their EPQ, attempting to evidence how
their work met the various success criteria.
They then self and peer assessed each others work using the differentiated,
detailed success criteria on the assessement pro forma.
Clarke (2005) provides numerous examples of self and peer assessment approaches and different
styles of pro formas. Whatever the design of the feedback pro forma, learners benefit in having
the approach modelled to them, for example using work from a previous year, or a ‘spoof’ version
that has been specifically designed to illustrate common problems.
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So... examine the evidence
So... adopt evidence-based methods
So... enhance learning