Reflective practice and a review into educational literature and policy has identified formative assessment as a crucial area for focus and development in my classroom in order to enhance learning and teaching and to ensure pupils reach their potential. Formative assessment has been categorised as providing “valuable data for decision makers” (Looney 2011: 3) that when met with valuable feedback and the correct follow-up adjustments is key to improving pupil achievement (Looney 2011, Wiliam 2016). An area of interest was the effectiveness of peer-assessment as an AiFL strategy “to benefit learning” and “encourage self-evaluation” (GTCS). The CfE posits that learners become “effective contributors” and “responsible citizens” (ibid), yet “schooling continues to be based upon conceptions of childhood that regard young people as dependent and incapable” (Flutter and Ruddock 2004: 133). Researchers in this field of study comment on the benefits of peer and self-assessment (Andrade, 2013, Wiliam 2014) in that it has the ability to “activate students as learners of their own learning” and “as teaching resources for one another” (Wiliam, 2014). In promoting autonomous learners, we are likely to avoid the pitfalls commented on by Flutter and Ruddock. However, further reflection on peer-assessment conjured a series of questions which cast doubt upon my certainty of peer-assessment as an effective method: just how capable are pupils of assessing each other’s work without teacher input? Do they understand what is being asked of them? Are pupils able to grasp and respond to their own strengths and weaknesses? Do pupils react to their peers’ feedback in ways that result in meaningful progress? What is its effect on pupil engagement and enjoyment? And importantly, does peer-assessing have any implications in terms of the pupils’ wellbeing?
The aim of this enquiry was to evaluate the success of a peer-assessment grid as a method of a formative assessment tool. This enquiry centred on assessing its impact on the quality of writing produced by pupils with little teacher support, and to gain a better understanding of its effect on pupil engagement and enjoyment, and pupils’ wellbeing. Another aim was to draw conclusive evidence which would allow evaluation of the successes and/or challenges faced when utilising this type of AiFL tool and to reflect on these findings in order to improve the teaching and learning in classrooms and to hopefully prompt further enquiry.