Formative assessment is an integral part of the teaching process to support and enhance learning. It can be defined as “encompassing all those activities undertaken by teachers, and/or by their students, which provide information to be used as feedback to modify the teaching and learning activities in which they are engaged” (Black and Wiliam, 1998: 7). Peer assessment involves activating students as instructional resources for each other and this is one of Dylan Wiliam’s key formative assessment strategies for higher student achievement (itslearning, 2017). It fits with a social constructivist perspective on learning which stresses the fundamental role of social interaction in the development of cognition and the process of meaning making (Vygotsky, 1978; Powell and Kalina, 2009). As a result of such perceived benefits, the use of peer assessment is strongly supported by both the Scottish Government and the General Teaching Council for Scotland (Scottish Government, 2011; GTCS, 2012).
From examining literature, peer assessment appears to be an effective formative assessment strategy and as a probationer working towards the Standard for Full Registration, it is important to further increase my knowledge and understanding of assessment and improve my skills and abilities in this area in order to support and enhance learning. Furthermore, the school I am currently working in strongly encourages pupils to engage in self-evaluation and I was keen to examine what happens when peer assessment is used in the classroom.
The overarching aim of this enquiry was to examine what happens when peer assessment is used in the classroom and in order to achieve this, the following objectives were set:
- To explore children’s understanding of peer assessment and whether they have the skills to effectively peer assess.
- To explore whether children use peer assessment feedback to progress in their own learning.
- To explore children’s attitudes towards peer assessment.