7 Tips For Peer And Self-Assessment

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How can you ensure pupil-led assessment is meaningful?

If used meaningfully and well-managed, peer and self-assessment can improve students’ understanding of a topic, enable them to support one another and have a huge impact on progress. It can also drastically cut your marking pile – so, everyone’s a winner!

These tips will help to make peer and self-assessment work for both you and your students.

1. Have a clear assessment criteria

Make sure that you are crystal clear what makes a piece of work successful. Language must be kept factual; anything that is open to interpretation can complicate the process. In an art lesson, saying ‘you have used at least 3 different tones (highlight, mid-tone and shadow)’ is often easier for a student to understand than ‘effective use of tone’. Tick boxes and checklists work particularly well, especially with younger students.

2. Develop the assessment criteria with students

Rather than just providing an assessment criteria, have the class get involved with creating it. This will get them to take ownership and they are likely to develop a much deeper understanding of how to make progress. It also means that it will be written in “student speak”, so less chance of confusion!

3. Use anonymous examples of work

This can be particularly helpful for assessing creative work, when students can be self-conscious about sharing personal work with the class. Alleviate this stress by collecting together examples of work done by a previous class (make sure there are no names on it) and use that as the basis for your assessment. Students could rank the examples from most too least successful and create a success criteria without the fear of offending their mates.

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4. Vary the work they assess

If your students are in a seating plan and mark their neighbours’ work, then they will often be critiquing work of similar quality. If they are different abilities this could be quite demotivating and it won’t really challenge them. Instead, mix it up, laying the work out randomly on the desks before the students come in means that they see something different each time.

5. Model responses

If left to their own devices many students will just try to get away with writing “it’s really nice” as their feedback, which is no use to anyone! If you provide students with clear frameworks to use it can have a huge impact on the quality of their feedback and therefore their learning. Using a sentence starter such as “In order to improve you need to…. so that… ” ensures that students give specific examples of areas for improvement and explain them fully.

6. Allow time to respond

Don’t use peer/self assessment as a plenary task right at the end of your lesson. In order for feedback to have proper impact students must have a chance to digest it and to make changes in response to it. Restructure your lessons so that the assessment takes place at the midpoint. Then return to it at the end of the lesson to review progress.

7. Provide feedback on their peer/self-assessments

Once students have completed a peer/self-assessment task, don’t just move on straight away. Spend time with the class discussing the quality of the feedback they have given. Get students to read out what they have written and have the class critique it and suggest further improvements. This will get students to really understand how to structure their responses. By providing feedback and spending time on it you will also help students to see it as something important, rather than a tick box exercise.

Review the peer and self-assessment in your classroom today and get it working more efficiently and intelligently. You’ll soon see the impact on student progress and marking workload.

Christina Brown

Christina is an Art and Design Teacher in a London secondary school. In her third year of teaching, she has also just completed an MA in Art and Design in Education at The Institute of Education (University College London). Christina is also a practicing artist and an advocate of promoting creativity in the classroom.

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