The nature of assessment in the classroom has been debated for years. Bartlett (2015) sates that ‘in any outstanding lesson, time is spent giving pupils the opportunity to reflect on their own learning and this is an essential component of assessment for learning.’ Through peer assessment pupils are encouraged to assess others work and in turn reflect on their own learning. Lu and Law (2012) state that: ‘Peer feedback refers to giving comments on the work or performance of peers, which involves reflective engagement (Falchikov and Blythman 2001).’ The idea is that even if the peer feedback is not overly detailed, the process of marking somebody else’s work is an act of self-reflection for the pupil. This in turn should mean that when continuing their own work, the pupil is aware of how it is assessed and therefore meet the success criteria. This is furthered by Lu and Law’s (2012) findings that: ‘Some researchers have argued that peer feedback enhances learning by enabling learners to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and by receiving concrete ideas on how to improve their work (Crooks 1988; Rowntree 1987; Xiao and Lucking 2008).’
Education Scotland’s Building the Curriculum 3 – A Framework for Learning and Teaching (2008) states that: ‘all learners should be involved in planning and reflecting on their own learning, through formative assessment, self and peer evaluation and personal learning planning.’ It also discusses the idea that teachers must lead formal assessment, but that peer evaluation can be an effective tool to aid learning. The effects, however, of peer assessment are also debated. Oftentimes there are negative connotations attached to receiving criticism from peers, especially in secondary school.
The aims of this enquiry were:
- To understand if using peer assessment in lessons would improve writing.
- To understand the effect peer assessment has on the health and wellbeing of pupils.