When done well, peer and self-assessment (PSA) provides high-quality assessment for students while teaching students essential life skills and reducing the burden on faculty. Research indicates that peer assessment offers the following pedagogical benefits:
- Diversifies feedback
- Provides practice in formal assessment and receiving feedback
- Deepens learning, since it requires a second consideration of the assignment
- Enhances motivation related to team performance
Self-assessment involves many of the same learning opportunities, while also engaging students in critical self-reflection and regulation, enhancing student ownership of learning and outcomes, and challenging students to create action plans related to their work.
PSA can be used as a summative or formative feedback tool, as an occasional technique, or used consistently through a course or program. In the case of peer assessment, consider how you want to distribute student work. Some educators recommend using peer assessment groups of three or four students to avoid inadvertently pairing two poor-performing students together. Regardless of how PSA is used, the following best practices are important to keep in mind:
- Provide clear guidelines about the purpose and quality of PSA-related feedback.
- Construct rubrics or checklists to establish proper criteria and standards.
- Train students how to use assessment tools by providing examples and
modeling their use.
- Moderate the process by reviewing and providing feedback on the PSA.
Part of multisource feedback
PSA can be integrated into learning activities to create layered learning artifacts and assessments. Consider the following examples:
- Discussion forums: The instructor uses a checklist to assess timely participation. Students use a PSA rubric to evaluate the quality of forum contributions.
- Presentations: The instructor uses a rubric to assess student performance. Students assess their own efforts and compare with the instructor assessment. They use the collective feedback to create an action plan for improvement, and all pieces are reviewed by the instructor.
- Projects: The project is divided into multiple work products (e.g., proposal, prototype, and final product). Intermediate products undergo peer review as a means of generating formative feedback before being formally assessed by the instructor.
Practice examples and resources
Select the following links to access examples of PSA guidelines, approaches, and tools that have been developed and published by educators and educational institutions:
- Carnegie Mellon University (drama): Rubric for developing student self-assessment skills
- Deakin University: Peer and self-assessment
- EdSurge: Five ways to make peer feedback effective in your classroom
- Faculty Focus: Peer assessment that improves performance in groups
- Northwestern University (history): Peer and self-evaluation of group project
- Plymouth University: Seven steps to peer and self-assessment
- State University of New York (OSCQR): Self-assessment
- University of Dublin, Trinity College: Guide to peer assessment