How often do you carry out peer assessment at the end of a task? I know I used to do it a lot in the past, I’d get students to read each other’s work, write a WWW and EBI comment or a kind, specific and helpful comment depending on the school system and then that would be the end of it.
Then when I started using DIRT in lessons, I might have got students to re-write a piece of their work or write an additional piece in action of the peer feedback.
Then I eventually realised, why I am getting them to peer assess at the end when if they were to carry out peer assessment part-way through a task that would give them time to act on the feedback there and then.
I first did this some time ago now in my last school, it was just before we had Ofsted in so that would have been about May 2015. In fact I did it during the observation lesson, students had been working on the Spanish Armada double lesson; at the end of the lesson they peer assessed each other on their chosen criteria. The next lesson they continued with the activity and made improvements as they produced new work – for instance if a student had wanted their use of PEE paragraphs assessed and in particular their use of evidence from the sources, their peer assessed how effectively they’d been applying evidence and how they could improve, when they continued the work the next day each time the student included new evidence they’d write it in pink to demonstrate the progress they were making in their use of evidence in their PEE paragraphs.
These days I rarely use peer assessment solely at the end of a piece of work, instead I apply it within activities to give students the opportunity to assess progress, make improvements and access inspiration to develop their own work.
Recently when I’ve mentioned the power of peer assessment in my classroom I’ve had a lot of backlash from other teachers on twitter, particularly when I’ve shared the ACE and SpACE peer assessment techniques. People arguing that we are expecting novices to assess novices. Now I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t expect my students to ever give a summative grade or level without assessing it myself as well, they are learning.
I might however ask them to predict the level or grade they think a finished piece of work might achieve using success criteria or a mark scheme and justify why in order to help them to understand what is being assessed but I never take it as the final grade. It’s merely an opportunity for students to engage with assessment criteria; in my opinion if they understand the assessment criteria when they sit an assessment whether it be a formative piece, a summative or external exam then they can apply it better? No?
I know my learner’s are not experts, but I’m training them to be. I’m facilitating their learning and that means both subject content, life long learning skills and their understanding of assessment criteria in order to maximise their potential in their GCSEs or other exams.
The opportunity to peer assess isn’t just about the outcome (grade, marks, levels etc) but the process. Students see other work whether it be good or bad practice; reflection upon what they see allows them to improve their own work. It’s an opportunity for idea sharing and to be inspired. A time to reflect on one’s own strengths and weaknesses. A time to consider successes and areas for improvement. An opportunity to gain feedback before submitting work as complete to the teacher. Personally peer assessment is more than that, it’s a learning experience.
Yes, peer assessment does reduce my workload slightly. In the sense that it means students receive feedback there and then and the opportunity to act on it in a timely manner rather than days or weeks later. I mark their work, I assess their work. But I often found that marking work at the end or part way through myself meant a delay between producing the work and them receiving feedback on it, further more it meant a lag time between production and opportunity to act on the feedback.
I personally want my students to access timely feedback, verbal works but I can’t get around a whole class of 28-32 students in the time available so peer assessment helps students to access this feedback. Yes it takes training from day one, yes it takes time and yes it requires scaffolding but eventually students get it. They become confident in their ability to self and peer assess, they learn exam techniques throughout their years in secondary education and not just in the ‘exam’ years. Give stop, assess and progress and go in your classroom (but be consistent and persistent with it, it takes time to master).
How do you use peer assessment in your classroom? Do you agree with me? Disagree (polite debate welcomed)?