Assessment is a vital component of learning in the classroom. Formative assessment has been seen to improve standards in the classroom if used effectively and consistently (Young, 2005). Involvement in learning is essential and peer assessment allows for a co-regulation to take place meaning learners are working within the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) as highlighted by Vygotsky (1987). Clark (2011) mentions that peer assessment and this exchange of ideas can enable learners to cross this ZPD to improve their learning. In addition, there is a wealth of peer discussions happening in classrooms everyday therefore to make positive use of these discussions will improve learning.
A key step prior to any assessment taking place has been proven to be giving clear learning intentions and expectations (Wiliam, 1998; The Scottish Government, 2011; Heritage, 2007; Stiggins, 2009; Clark, 2011). This links easily in the classroom as learning intentions are shared each lesson and then success criteria are built with the help of the learners which aids understanding of expectations. During the feedback process learners are more honest and reliable when assessing each other, and are more open to wishes, more so than if the same feedback was given by a teacher (Black and Wiliam, 1998; Black et al., 2004; Young, 2005).
There are several positive impacts of peer assessment highlighted in research and literature, however the main reason for the choice of peer assessment in this enquiry is the greater understanding it provides the learners. This can be linked to the discussions that take place around the feedback, this discussion is in the natural language of the learners, and they also feel more able to interrupt a peer for clarification (Black et al., 2004). In addition, the Scottish Government (2005) found that attainment improves most when learners receive both feedback about what they have done well and how they could improve. This was the reasoning behind the two stars and a wish formative assessment strategy used in this enquiry
Interestingly Topping (2009) found that peer feedback is of equal reliability and validity to feedback given by a teacher as the feedback is available more immediately and in greater volume than teacher feedback. Even a peer assessor with less skill if given more time to complete the feedback could provide this reliable and valid feedback.
The aim of this enquiry was to study the effect of the two stars and wish process used as a form of formative assessment. This was monitored with two questions:
- Were the stars maintained?
- Was the wish acted upon?
Each lesson had clear learning intentions and expectations and modelling was done at the beginning of the enquiry to ensure effective feedback would be given.