Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), Building the Curriculum 3 (2008) highlights the importance of involving the learners in “planning and reflecting on their own learning, through formative assessment, self and peer evaluation and personal learning planning” (Scottish Government, 2008; 27). Furthermore, Building the Curriculum 5 (2010) goes further to emphasise that peer assessment allows learners to support others and extend their own learning. It is clear from looking at these document that one of the priorities of CfE is developing skills within the learners to evaluate both their own learning and the learning of other.
However, evaluating learning is something which needs to be done with care and consideration. In order to evaluate learning there has to be a set of clear expectations to consider and this becomes even trickier when trying to evaluate effort. “Our pupils are so concerned with effort and they must believe that they are capable” (Woolfolk et al, 2008; 383). Another issue with measuring effort is that effort looks different for each child. Instead we should be “recognising learners for improving on their own personal best, for tackling difficult tasks, for persistence and for creativity. Not just performing better than others.” (Woolfolk et al, 2008; 471).
In order to see what will happen when learners are given encouragement from their peers we must first consider the value of peer interactions. Maslow suggests that the enjoyment learners receive from interacting with their peers, meets their need for belonging and ultimately increases motivation (1943, cited in Woolfolk et al, 2008). With this in mind it will be interesting to investigate the impact peer encouragement will have on the effort and motivation of the learners in Primary 6.
The aim of this practitioner enquiry is to observe what happens to learner’s engagement and motivation when peer encouragement is introduced.