What are the benefits of peer assessments?
First, let’s get an idea of the benefits. How do they help teachers and, more importantly, children?
Peer assessment can:
- Encourage social skills and communication by getting children to talk openly about their and others’ work.
- Pave the way for self-assessment and individual learning. This is because it can develop children’s understanding of success criteria and constructive criticism.
- As long as time is given for children to respond to the feedback, it could improve their work and provide them with something useful to act on next time.
- Make feedback less daunting for children because it’s from a peer rather than a teacher. As we all know, children often make the best teachers!
- Gives children new inspiration and techniques to use in their work. Seeing others’ work – whether it’s creative writing, reasoning in maths, the way some data has been presented in science, a piece of artwork, or a dance – can help them to magpie ideas.
- Make sure every child has their work acknowledged by someone else because teachers can’t respond to every child individually in a lesson.
- Develop important character attributes, such as respect, responsibility, and independence.
Getting Started with Peer Assessment
You might not be using peer assessment techniques yet. Or you might fear that things have gotten stale in your classroom regarding this way of working. Either way, don’t panic!
Don’t be afraid to devote time with your class to learning (or re-learning) the basics.
- Spend a session asking children what they know about peer assessment, why they think we use it and how they feel about it.
- Model examples of peer assessment by going through a fictional piece of work together. Discuss the kind of feedback that would be useful to give and how to do it.
- Help children to give feedback against the aim and success criteria of the lesson. It’s also useful for them to know how to be specific with their feedback.
- Spend time helping children to understand how to respond to the feedback they receive.
- Use peer assessment in various subjects, from maths and English to art and dance.
- Ensure a culture of respect is embedded in the classroom so children don’t feel judged or insecure when engaging in peer assessment.
15 Peer Assessment Techniques to Try
- Anonymous feedback
Hand out open books to children (not their own) and ask them not to look at who they have. They can then fill in a peer assessment grid, table, or form against the success criteria – whatever they like!
Next, send the books back to their owners so they can read and respond to the feedback.
Here’s a top tip: if your school has two classes in a year group and they’re completing the same work, swap between types.
- Share with another pair
Ask children to share positive feedback about a partner’s work with another pair. By sharing good practice, ideas are shared further in the class. It also helps children to feel good about themselves when their work is praised in front of others.
- Bloom’s Taxonomy
Use Bloom’s Taxonomy questions to guide verbal peer assessment. Take questions from this wheel to print on feedback that you put in children’s books. Or use it as a guide for the oral peer discussion, either during or at the end of a lesson.
- Peer quizzes
This is a nice and easy peer assessment technique. Use the lesson’s aim and success criteria to make a short quiz. This can include questions about finding evidence in their partner’s work.
- Two stars and a wish
An oldie but a goldie. This is a useful format to use, especially for younger children.
- Feedback sandwich
Like two stars and a wish, this method involves children identifying two things they thought their partner did well and one point for improvement. The improvement comment is sandwiched between the two positive comments!
- A favorite quote
Children select and share their favorite quote from a partner’s work. It’s great for creative writing. The section could be communicated verbally or, instead, be written on a sticky note and put on a learning wall display.
- A shared success
Ask children to work together to develop something they both did well or could improve.
- School values and growth mindset
Occasionally link the peer assessment and feedback to the school’s values, the value of the month, or learning styles. This will help children to develop as learners to embed a growth mindset.
- Joint feedback
One pair of children swapped their books for this peer assessment technique with another. Together, they discuss how well the other team has done before feeding back to them.
- Vary the formats of written feedback
This makes the exercise way more interesting. It means they don’t get stuck in a rut writing the same comments.
- Setting a challenge
Why not ask the class to create a goal or challenge for their partner? They can write this on a sticky note and put it in their book.
Then, the next time you do a related piece of work, they can look at the sticky note and return to it after they’ve finished.
- Topical feedback
A great way to have fun with peer assessment is to link the feedback format or language to a topic. For example, if the lesson is a balanced argument lesson about mobile phones, you could write this on a mobile phone template.
- One-minute feedback
Set the timer and ask the class to give as much feedback to their partner in a minute! Then, switch over so the other person can have a go.
Write a few sentence starter prompts on the board so they can refer to it if they get stuck.
- Feedback stickers
Mix it with stickers for children to complete, which they can stick into their partner’s book. All children love stickers!