Foundations of Education and Instructional Assessment/Involving Students/Peer Assessment
Peer Assessment: Can and should students grade each other?
By Brittany Bowman
Learning Targets 
Readers should be able to:
1. Understand what peer assessment is.
2. Understand the pros and cons of peer assessment.
Teachers across the United States have been progressively been using more and more cooperative learning strategies. Of the many cooperative learning techniques and strategies being put to use within the classroom, teachers seem to favor one in particular: peer assessment. Peer assessment is when students evaluate the work of their fellow classmates with the best of their ability to provide helpful solutions or hints and to correct mistakes. Also, by doing so, the students are ultimately receiving an insight into their own work.
Although students benefit from getting their work evaluated by their peers and being able to correct it before finally receiving a grade from the teacher, there is one question that still remains: can and should students grade each other's work?
There is good reasoning for those who believe that students should be able to assess one another's work. The process of peer assessment shows that it can be very beneficial and it shows that there are many advantages in allowing students to evaluate each other's school assignments.
- One of the biggest benefits to peer assessments is the fact that the students are given the chance to edit and correct all errors from the feedback given by the peer reviewer before the teacher gives the assignment a final grade (Froyd, 2002). Allowing students to 'perfect' their paper or assignment, gives the student a better chance at receiving a better grade.
- As students review their peers works, they begin to see insight into their own work. Peer editing or reviewing gives the students guided practice, which in turn, sharpens their comprehension of the material (Froyd, 2002). Also, by reading other peers' work, it could inspire new thoughts or ideas that could be used to improve their personal performance.
- To some degree, the students within the classroom gain communication skills with one another through this experience of peer assessment. Through this process, students learn how to clearly give feedback and how to effectively use and incorporate the feedback they receive (Froyd 2002).
- Time is valuable to both the teacher and the student. Grading assignments can be very time consuming for one teacher to handle. Using the peer assessment process can act as a solution to this problem. "Peer assessment affords students much more immediate and frequent feedback than one instructor can possibly provide" (Nilson, 2003). Having enough time to correct the mistakes is key and the whole reason why peer review or assessment exists in the first place.
Those with opposing viewpoints have an entirely different perspective on how ineffective peer assessment could potentially be for the students. There are many reasons how this cooperative learning strategy could work against itself and not give the students the proper feedback necessary for improvement.
- Emotions and loyalties play an immense role in how peer assessment, which seems to be a perfectly suited process, can worsen or even fail. Students assigned to evaluate a close or faithful classmate, might be very hesitant or cautious to provide essential feedback needed to fix the mistakes, in fear of hurting their friend's feelings. On the other hand, students assigned to evaluate a classmate that they dislike, might cause the peer reviewer to be more harsh than helpful (Nilson, 2003). In this case, the peer assessment process would backfire and would ultimately cause more work for the teacher.
- Students acquire knowledge at different rates and process the knowledge on different ability levels. Students that are at lower ability levels may not be able to contribute proper feedback that could be used beneficially (Nilson, 2003).
- Other students might not put forth enough effort or as much effort as their fellow classmates, which would put the work being evaluated at a disadvantage (Nilson, 2003). These students could make careless mistakes while trying to fix the current mistakes.
Peer assessment can be very beneficial for both the teacher and the student when the proper guidelines are provided. If the students evaluate each other's work with their best ability, then the students are able to get the feedback that they need with enough time to fix the errors before the assignment is given a final grade by the teacher.
1. Which of the following is not considered a benefit of using the peer assessment process?
a. Peer assessment gives the students enough time to fix the errors.
b. Peer editing gives the students practice which can sharpen their comprehension.
c. Students learn at different ability levels.
d. Students see insight into their own work.
2. Why do emotions and loyalties play an important role?
a. Students assigned to evaluate a classmate that they dislike, might cause the peer reviewer to be more harsh than helpful.
b. Students assigned to evaluate a close or faithful classmate, might be very hesitant or cautious to provide essential feedback needed to fix the mistakes.
c. The students do not put forth enough effort.
d. Both a and b
3. Grading papers can be very time consuming and Mr. Fuller recently assigned his class a research paper, where the students have to choose a battle taken place during the civil war. The assignment is worth 40% of the students' overall grade, and the students are expected to do their absolute best. How should Mr. Fuller go about to make sure the students get proper feedback before submitting their paper in for a final grade?
a. He should only give the students a rubric and let them figure the rest out on their own, hoping for the best.
b. Mr. Fuller should give all the students A's, which reduces time and the students will benefit by getting a good grade.
c. Peer assessment can be used being very beneficial for both the teacher, which reduces the time needed and to the student when the proper guidelines are provided.
d. Since time is so valuable, instead of taking the time to give the students grades, Mr. Fuller decides to grade based on the grades given to the students on past assignments.
4. Billy's mom is a single parent that works two jobs to make ends meet. As a result she spends most of her time trying to make enough money to pay the bills and little time at home. Billy has been doing all his work, but because he lacks a parent to review over it before submitting it, errors are not found or fixed. Billy's teacher, Mrs. Powell, has noticed that his grade is suffering and wants to try to help. What should Mrs. Powell do?
a. By allowing time in class for students to assess each other's work, Billy would be able to fix the errors before submitting it for a final grade.
b. Call Billy's mom and complain about how she is being a bad parent.
c. Ignore Billy's situation because she thinks that it is rude to intrude in his home life when it is none of her business.
d. Mrs. Powell should do nothing, which could result in Billy failing the class and end up having to take it over again.
Froyd, Jeffrey. (2002). Peer assessment and peer evaluation. Retrieved March 17, 2009, from http://www.foundationcoalition.org/publications/brochures/2002peer_assessment.pdf
Johnson, D., Johnson, R., & Smith, K. (2004). Quotations on teaching, learning, and education. NTLF. Retrieved March 16, 2009, from http://www.ntlf.com/html/lib/quotes.htm
Nilson, Linda B. (2003) Helping students help each other: making peer feedback more valuable. Essays on teaching excellence: toward the best in the academy, 14(8). Retrieved March 16, 2009, from http://academic.udayton.edu/FacDev/Newsletters/EssaysforTeachingExcellence/PODvol14/tevol14n8.html