Peer assessment has been in use for many years. It started for the author 25 years ago when students would bring their Technology project or wood metal project to me for assessment.

moodle makes it easy

Three or four students would crowd around the job and they would be asked to describe the best thing about the project and the worst thing about the project. From this, there would be a teacher-guided discussion ending with the students giving a value out of 20 to the project.

Some students would give themselves an inflated mark so they would be asked about different parts of the project and how their project was created,

The discussion would go like. ’is this perfect? Let’s ask what the others think. Often the reaction will be to fail themselves so the group (with teacher guided questions) conversation would develop to, but this has worked well, or your ideas are sound and worth some points. Eventually the discussion would lead to an assessed value but with the student having a clear idea as to what is value and what is not. This teaches the student to be critical of themselves for the correct reasons. Rarely could students give a constructive and objective view of their own work. Most would start by putting themselves down and giving their work no value or they would have no idea how to be critical of their own work and give themselves top marks. This is where the teacher guided discussion is important and the teacher has to keep remembering the reason they are doing this process is to teach the students by getting them involved in the process.

It does not take long for the students to grasp the idea of being critical and the next time the process is used the students are far more objective.

The good part about learning to assess their own work and understanding the concept of quality concept of quality is that students eventually do not need teachers as they can self teach and assess the quality of their own work. The belief is, if a person does not understand quality or has not been taught about quality, their personal learning can be very haphazard and the concept of lifelong learning is not as affective.

Assessment with whole classes can be very time consuming due to the collating of a huge amount of data. This can be done using excel databases and formulas to put the data in order so it can be used for assessments but the collating can be very boring and time consuming. A class of 25 can generate about 6oo bits of data and more with extra questions.

If the projects come in at different times the assessment can be completed over staggered times in small groups.

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Current trends for Peer assessments, obviously have not changed, obviously, because all the same issues are still issues, such as students being naive assessors that Dr Langan and Dr Wheater (2003) mention. The issues can be tackled the same as anything different that is introduced to the students, that is, teach them some skills to use, even going as far as mind-mapping different desirable and undesirable aspects of the project. In some cases, part of this teaching will be the difference between assessing a student’s output or product and assessing the student how they feel about the project and why. This is the difference between Objective and Subjective assessments. One other subject to be careful with is to get the feedback to be couched in positive terms. An example could be. ‘It would be good to see more of the green themes’, not to make comments like, ‘why did you use yellow it is horrible’. Couching everything in positive terms is very important, as negativity has never been a good teaching or management model.

It can be noted that if students have been exposed to good assessment rubrics the peer group assessment becomes easier. A Learning Management System (in this case Moodle ) can make the process of peer group assessment with large classes exceptionally easy. Before Moodle students would assess each others presentations on a slip of paper and all the data would be put into an excel database and formulas used to find a score for each student.

Now with Moodle a feedback activity module is packed with the software but has to be activated in the site administration. A feedback activity is put in the unit of work for the class and the students can log into their Moodle account and leave an assessment for each student after the student has finished their presentation.

moodle makes it easy

References.

Langan, Dr A. Mark and Wheater, Dr C. Philip (2003) Learning and Teaching in Action Learning Teaching Unit Manchester Metropolitan University. http://www.celt.mmu.ac.uk/ltia/issue4/langanwheater.shtml [accessed 04/08/2012]

More information can be found at the following sites.

http://staff.mq.edu.au/teaching/evaluation/resources_evaluation/developing_unit/assess_achievement/

http://www.reading.ac.uk/engageinassessment/peer-and-self-assessment/peer-assessment/eia-peer-assessment- troubleshooting.aspx

Additional information