The Scottish Government (2011) explains that assessment should be used to support learning. Black and Wiliam (2006) highlight that assessment carried out by pupils is an essential part of formative assessment. Black and Wiliam (1998) have conducted a wide range of research which focuses on the role of formative assessment on pupils’ progress in schools. From the research carried out, Black and Wiliam concluded that effective formative assessment allows pupils to acquire continuous feedback regarding their learning and evaluate ways in which they can improve their knowledge or skills. They highlight that for this to be effective, pupils should be involved in the process and this information should be used as feedback for teachers and educators, to adjust their teaching strategies. They report that the use of formative assessment strategies is the foundation for supporting pupils’ progression.
The idea that pupils’ progression can be supported using formative assessment is visible through peer-assessment. This strategy encourages the children to work co-operatively to assess each other, offering assistance, advice and praise in relation to the success criteria. As highlighted by Boon (2013), for peer-assessment to be effective, children must acquire the relevant skills and understanding of how to assess. Peer-assessment provides opportunities to develop a variety of transferable skills such as; talking and listening, problem solving and working in collaboration with others. This ethos is also reinforced within the Scottish Government document, Building the Curriculum 5, which explains the importance of assessing personal qualities and skills such as, creative thinking, making informed decisions and working in partnerships. Simpson (2001) agrees that children need more than knowledge and they should have the opportunity to develop skills they will require throughout their life. In practice, research suggests that such skills can equate to children in Scotland developing through the four capacities of CFE, becoming ‘Confident Individuals’ and demonstrating; ‘progression, challenge and enjoyment – and depth’ in their learning which are part of the 7 principles of a CFE. Gipps (1999), emphasise that by giving children the responsibility of assessment, it allows them to develop themselves as ‘self-monitoring learners’.
As a Primary 1 teacher I am striving to embed the skills and knowledge within children to continuously assess their learning and identify areas for improvement – taking some responsibility for their own learning. In order to promote this at the early level, I devised a visual checklist and differentiated this to meet the needs of individual learners.
The aim of this enquiry is to develop a checklist which can be used by the children to support them in effective peer-assessment during literacy tasks.