As a cross-sector group of three primary teachers and two secondary teachers, we decided to focus on peer-assessment. We came to the consensus that the technique of a learning grid using success criteria was the strategy that we would focus on because most of us had used this already in one form or another. Our focus then became ‘What happens when peer-assessment grids are introduced in the classroom?’
Before beginning our five-week enquiry, we issued out a questionnaire to our pupils to gain an understanding of their perceptions of peer-assessment, its purpose and their value of using peer-assessment in their learning. Pupils were very honest in their responses. Some stated that they had low level confidence when commenting on their peer’s work. Others could see the value of such a task and enjoyed participating in peer-assessment activities.
The learning grid was introduced into two Secondary English classes, a Primary 3/2, Primary 3 and Primary 6 class. We hoped that this would examine the connection between using peer-assessment and children’s achievement in writing. We used learning grids based around writing success criteria as a written format for finished pieces of work. The outcomes of our observations were that pupils became more confident assessing their partner’s work as the enquiry intervention progressed. Furthermore, we observed an openness of shared dialogue between pupils and a culture of critique. The children were more motivated to use their feedback to inform their own next steps for their next writing session. However, it became clear from parts of this study that pupils who did not benefit from the intervention, were those pupils with general difficulties across the curriculum. Pupils who struggled were those that had difficulties grasping the success criteria itself. More time focused on teaching the criteria would therefore overcome such challenges. Therefore, there was no clear high indicator of the focused task raising children’s achievement in writing within the five-week enquiry. Although children’s perceptions of, increased engagement within and motivation towards the peer-assessment task was highly observed by all.
If we were to carry out the enquiry again we would perhaps conduct it over a much longer period. This would offer an overall result in a much more reliable study. We could focus on a small task to introduce the benefits of having comments from peers. This would then hopefully lend itself to creating further meaningful and purposeful learning exchanges.