What is peer assessment in education?

Peer assessment, or peer evaluation, is a method of assessing children’s work where students look at a partner’s work and evaluate it.

A clear success criterion must be established for peer assessment to work so the child reviewing it can understand if it meets the requirements.

How to do peer assessment:

When a child assesses their peer’s work, they must give honest and helpful comments and feedback. The purpose of peer assessment is to help students understand their work and how they can improve through giving and receiving feedback.

  • Each comment they write should be detailed and specific
  • They should focus on the quality of what has been written rather than commenting on the handwriting and spelling

An example of a child starting a peer evaluation is to give their partner a comment about something they did well, ‘What I liked about your work was…’

They should also give their partner a comment about something they could improve. For example, ‘Your work would be even better if…’

What is the purpose of peer evaluation?

The benefits of peer learning and assessment:

Using peer evaluation in education has several benefits, including:

  • As children will be taking on the role of the assessor during peer assessment, they will develop new, valuable skills, such as evaluation and critical thinking, through analyzing and commenting on their peer’s work. Allowing them to see their work and the work of others through a different lens is one of the main purposes of peer assessment.
  • Peer evaluation helps empower children because the process of peer evaluation involves taking responsibility for their learning, as well as helping classmates.
  • Children can learn effectively through peer evaluation because they are refreshed on course content by marking their peer’s work. In addition, it can be a helpful way to motivate children with their work.
  • Peer assessment in education often involves a discussion aspect. Children will identify examples of what their peers did well on and areas they may be able to improve on next time and then will discuss this with the person whose work they have marked. It is a great way to help young children become more confident in their social and communication skills. In addition, it will help prepare them for later years of education when group work and peer assessment feature more frequently.
  • Through assessing other classmates’ work, children will begin to apply what they are learning to their work and become more aware of evaluating their learning in the future.
  • By taking on the assessor role, children can understand how the marking process works and how teachers assess their work.

The drawbacks of peer evaluation and learning:

Although there are many advantages to this method of assessment, peer evaluation and learning do have some drawbacks, such as:

  • Young learners may be overly positive rather than offering constructive criticism when assessing their classmates’ work. However, teachers can help encourage children to provide each other constructive criticism using positive prompts even better. Children must also understand that constructive criticism will ultimately have a positive impact, as it will help their peers in future learning tasks. It is a good idea to introduce children to a growth mindset – a mindset that focuses on developing your abilities through effort and learning from any mistakes – to further help with this.
  • If students are not given clear guidance or success criteria, their comments on other students’ work may be too vague or unhelpful.
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