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Dan Lyndon

Peer/Self Assessment

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I have been thinking about the assessment policy in my dept and would like to increase the amount of peer/pupil assessment that is used. The closest that I have come is the assessment criteria that I used for some of the webquests that I wrote: the dictators webquest but due to the appaling state of our ICT facilities (now thankfully refurbished) I wasn't able to do this effectively. Does anyone have any examples that they would be willing to share?

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One thing that I used to do was to set essays from previous examinations. I would then give them the mark-scheme supplied by the exam board and get them to mark another student’s paper. This gave them a good insight into what the chief examiner was looking for. It is also based on the idea that they best way to learn something is to teach it.

When I was doing my PGCE I decided to get the students to write reports on my teaching. It was a painful experience – they were much more honest than my tutors. However, I learnt a great deal from the experience (more so than reading my tutor reports). In the dialogue that took place following the writing of the reports, I also felt the students learnt a lot from the experience as well. After getting it off their chest, they also became more tolerant of the mistakes I was making in my teaching.

One of the best examples of peer group assessment was at Richard Jones-Nerzic’s school in Toulouse. It involved students assessing teaching materials produced by older students. Maybe, Richard will post details of how this worked.

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When I was doing my PGCE I decided to get the students to write reports on my teaching. It was a painful experience – they were much more honest than my tutors. However, I learnt a great deal from the experience (more so than reading my tutor reports). In the dialogue that took place following the writing of the reports, I also felt the students learnt a lot from the experience as well. After getting it off their chest, they also became more tolerant of the mistakes I was making in my teaching.

It is undoubtedly true that the teacher's best and most informative feedback is that which comes from the students he teaches.

The assessment of pupil performance however should be the reserve of the teacher alone. Be very clear and selective about what is to be assessed and of the criteria to be used, and there will be no need to experiment in the highly problematic and ultimately unreliable area of peer assesment.

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Guest Chris Sweeney

At KS3 we have laminated sheets of the NC levels in child-speak and in the back of student work books, there is sheet with a row for each NC assignment which is divided into the usual date/assignment title and a column for I can..... and I should now...... (I.e. achievement and target). This may be filled in, using the laminated sheet as their guide by the student, after the student has read teacher comment and target or has assessed their own work, or a peer has assessed it.

At KS4 before each assignment the teacher gives out the criteria and discusses what it means/helps the students record it in child-friendly language, with a discussion on what skills could be applied to actually achieve the targets at different grades. Students keep these notes and then return to them as they draft to assess their work/grade & make improvements. Class time is usually then also given over for peer/self assessment exercises during drafting (with teacher circulating and discussing their decisions).

At KS5 each module has a cover sheet which includes criteria (AOs) with spaces for comments from themselves and/or the teacher. Sometimes class time is given over to peer assessment of work before being handed in; sometimes (about 1 in 2 essays) the student is required to highlight sections, or annotate in the margins of their work where they feel they have met the AOs, before handing it in. After grading they are required to look at the teacher comments and ticks (or not) on the AO on the cover sheet and identify 1-2 specific targets for their next essay, which they are expected to record on the cover sheet of the next assignment before they begin it. If you are interested, Dan, I can send you an example cover sheet. (Email address in my member details.) An excellent assessment task that we also do at KS5 is to ask students to write their own specific criteria (modelled on the specific criteria that AQA use) before they begin a question; or even write the question first - ensuring it will allow them and their peers to meet the necessary requirements, of course (justifying their question to the class).

It is not high-tech as we do not yet use ICT as Dept to set work or receive work (a position which may change as our school web site is being developed further this year so may also become a teaching tool) but we took notice of the feedback from QCA and AQA which has consistently said that students who paid attention to the criteria did the best, and so our peer/self assessment has focused on that criteria. Individual teachers currently have their own methods for assessing, rewarding and setting targets for effort & on/off task behaviour.

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Edited to add I had not read Andy's comments properly. I agree that peer and self assessment is not as reliable as teacher assessment; but the process, if guided so that it is informed - and is always followed up by teacher assessment after being properly marked - undoubtedly allows students to know the criteria well. This is essential as it is they who have to strive to meet it in the examination room. Also, in assisting them to develop their skills in self-criticism (and realistic self-praise) at their young age; one is preparing them for the requirement to do so once in further Ed or in the wider world.

Edited a second time to say I originally had said John's comments, when I meant Andy! Sorry John (I can see you are on site!)

Edited by Chris Sweeney

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Some interesting responses. I am preparing for a department meeting next week in which we shall be discussing this topic so I shall certainly bring in some of these ideas. I like the use of specific marking criteria at the start of each unit of work, and have tried to do that on a few occasions - it is a bit like modelling I suppose, better to give the students the information before hand rather than waiting for them to make the mistakes and then have to 're-learn' the answers. I guess like all things that you haven't done before it just takes a bit of practice, I know that my starters and plenaries are much better already this year compared to last year, so I shall have to make time this year for more peer / self assessment so we can reap the rewards later on.

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Hello Dan

I come from a different world [i. e. TESOL, Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages, and training teachers for the same], but you might be able to use some of your associations on my experiences. Here are some points I would like to make:

1 We use a great deal of peer-assessment, and it works very well. It is the most important kind of feedback in peer-learning groups.

2 We never use peer-assessment in teacher-centred groups. There, the full rights and responsibilities are with the teacher, and he assesses his own class on the basis of ’A Teacher’s Credo’. It is a list of statements, explaining why we do things in the ways we do them, and what other possibilities might be open.

In a teacher-centred class the teacher is not one of the members of the group. There, he is a trained, and paid professional, facing untrained, and paying amateurs.

3 Both the peer-assessment and the teacher’s [as one of the group] assessment that follows are done on the basis of what we call a ’Crit-Sheet’. It is a list of criteria, well discussed and accepted by all concerned. The discussion includes tons of examples for each and every point, both for the positive, idealistic extreme, and for the negative, in Hungary somewhat more realistic extreme. Both students and the teacher try to define a well balanced mid-path for themselves.

4 Without a pre-set criteria, watching each other critically is no help at all for either parties. It is like an educational peepshow.

5 We use a great deal of self-assessment and it works very well. It is the most important kind of SWOT-analysis in the later stages of micro-teaching. We use this important tool on a mutual – symmetrical basis, using equal time, and between persons who have not seen each other’s ’performance’.

6 The self-assessment is done on the basis of what we call ’Self-Assessment Check List’. It is a list of criteria, more detailed than the ’Crit-Sheet’, well discussed and accepted by all concerned. The discussion includes tons of examples for each and every point, both for the positive, idealistic extreme, and for the negative, in Hungary somewhat more realistic extreme. Both students and the teacher try to define a well balanced mid-path for themselves.

7 Without a pre-set criteria, self-assessment and listening to each other’s rigmarole is no help at all for either parties. It is either like a boasting game, or a confession.

8 Both peer-assessment and self-assessment need a very highly developed skill of credulous listening, and suspended judgement.

9 We consider peer-assessment and self-assessment as very important developmental stages of self-awareness towards self-monitoring.

10 We use these techniques with students as well, in a simplified form, as part of their ’learning how to learn’.

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