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Chapter 5: Strategies for self- and peer assessment

Bianca Abbonizio, Rebecca Ffoulkes & Ebony Smith

Linking it with learning theories:

- Self- and peer assessment comes from the Social Constructivist (Vygotsky) belief that
learning is social and communicative, and involves teacher scaffolding and ongoing
dialogue between not only the teacher and learner, but also between learners.
- Self-assessment should engage students in meaningful tasks, should recognise that
students learn differently, and should consider individual feelings and perceptions.

Benefits of self- assessment Benefits of peer assessment

- Reflection helps to develop a deeper - Students are encouraged to take ownership of
understanding of a topic, and is an important skill their work, and it also builds professional skills
for the future workforce. (self reflection, time management, organisational
and team skills).
- Allows students to be engaged and immersed in - Emphasises the importance of ongoing
the assessment process, as students become an assessment (rather than a formality at the end of
active participant in the learning process. a unit) and encourages collaborative assessment.
- Fosters more independent learning (self- - Gives students and teacher a wider range of
monitoring and checking). feedback from across a range of views.

- Allows students to identify strengths and - Teaches students to work collaboratively and
weaknesses (which is useful to the teacher and helps to develop interpersonal and/or
the student). communication skills.
- Students can see relationships between teaching - Encourages a higher standard of work that is
and learning experiences. edited, polished and carefully considered.
- Teachers can gain insight into how students learn, - Helps to clarify assessment criteria.
which can help guide further tasks and
assessment strategies.

- Students lack the specific skills to assess one another, students may be biased (e.g.
friendships within the classroom), and students learn at different rates and so it may not
be appropriate to assess everyone together at the same standard.
- In regards to self- and peer assessment, higher education students reported feelings of
difficulty and discomfort when marking their peers’ work, and were concerned with how
time consuming the process could be.

Implementing self- and peer assessment

Teachers should cultivate a climate of support and encouragement when
establishing assessment criteria, and should model effective self- and peer
assessment practices by setting clear targets and using think-alouds to
model self-reflection. Some essentials when planning this type of
assessment include:

1. Promoting the value of reflection: Students should be immersed in a

range of reflective practices (e.g. journaling, traffic light systems).
2. Setting targets: Students need a clear understanding of what they have
to achieve, broken down into reasonable indicators.
3. Developing explicit criteria: explicit, clear and concise criteria is crucial
(whether it is defined by the teacher or determined by the student).
4. Providing practice: Students need opportunities to practice providing
and accepting constructive feedback.
Although typically designed and implemented by the teacher, students may work collaboratively to
design aspects of a self- or peer assessment that they feel would benefit them. Self- and peer
assessment strategies do not need to be used in isolation, and may complement one another.

Journals: Contracts:
Often used throughout the week and involves teacher - A statement of the task to be completed, a
feedback completion date and student signature, negotiated
Sentence prompts may be given for a more ‘structured’ between the teacher and student.
journal (e.g. “Today I discovered…”) - Students can self-assess, using agreed-upon
‘Double entry’ journal: students record facts from a criteria.
particular source before noting their thoughts about
Process portfolios:
The teacher should clearly define the purpose and - Requires ongoing written reflections on the quality
desired structure of the journal, and assure
of a particular piece of work.
confidentiality (establish a climate of trust). - Students can see the progression of thoughts,
Benefits: Helps to develop
ideas and knowledge, which might be shared with
writing skills, form of
peers and the teacher.
assessment, opportunity
to practice reflection. Graphic organisers:
Limitations: the creative/ - Uses a diagram to organise facts, concepts and
free nature of journalling ideas to show clear relationships.
can make it difficult to - Hi lights strengths and weaknesses in student
assess. understanding (to both the student and the

Self-assessment proformas: Other strategies:

1. Rating scale: allows students to judge their level of Physical continuums: Students choose their level of
achievement/understanding. understanding or achievement by physically moving
*May be numbered, have extremes such as ‘never’ and closer to one side of the classroom.
‘always or for younger children might have smiley faces
or colouring in a ladder. Presentations: Students will receive feedback based
2. Checklist: Helps students break down a complex on specific criteria, established and accepted by the
skill into specific steps, where students choose if class (may be split into content and communication
they have achieved each step (‘Yes’ or ‘No’). criteria).
3. Short answer: students are encouraged to identify
strengths, weaknesses, difficulties, challenges and Conferencing: Often includes the teacher and student
areas for improvement. discussing a student’s portfolio in a less formal, one-
on-one setting.

Traffic lights: Student-led reporting: Students report and reflect to

- Can be used for self- and peer their parent, with the teacher supervising 6 to 8
assessment. students but allowing them the freedom to take
- Similar strategies include ‘Hot control of their reporting.
and Cold’ and ‘Two Stars and a
Joint marking: Students mark work independently
Wish’. before comparing results/feedback in a discussion
with the teacher/peer.

Traffic light ideas Self-assessment Peer assessment

Green Confident of the quality of work The work is better than the assesor’s
own work

Red Help is needed The work is not as good as the


Amber Uncertain The work is of similar quality