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How to use Peer Assessment in your classroom

Peer Assessment – a very formalised title for something we likely include in our teaching, perhaps without even realising it.

Peer assessment is when we use the students to check their work before handing it to the teacher. It is a very powerful tool to use to support students and make them feel less intimidated or unconfident in their learning.

When another student in the class, who has been completing the same task, looks over their work, it is a chance for both students to develop. The “assessor” is able to have a more objective viewpoint as sometimes when students look at their own work they often don’t “see” any errors or missing points. To have another person take a look opens up more possibilities for dialogue and reflection.

Students will be unafraid to challenge each other about what they have produced as essentially, they are comparing their results with an equal and helping one another see what has been missed. Due to natural student relationships, they will feel less authority or judgement and thoughtfully correct their work and reflect upon improvements.

It is important to give students a framework to peer assess or “mark” against. The assessor needs to know what they are looking for and how to award credit or recognise error. It could be a numbered list of what should be included in the response and wherever they see it feature in the work the assessor could place a number. For example:

Success CriteriaNumber
Included the word “because”1
All capital letters correct2
All punctuation correct3
All spellings correct.4

For each correct criteria, the assessor places a number on the work to show where they identify it and gives a score of up to 4 marks for the piece of work. In this way you as a teacher are able to assess two students effectively on their knowledge in the task.

It is also useful for the assessor to use a different colour pen so you can identify and have evidence of peer assessment taking place in your classroom. For example, the student writes in black, the peer assessor marks in blue and you give an overall mark in green or red. The students will then know what colour to use for what task, especially if it becomes common practice.

It is also effective to take peer assessment one step further and encourage students to write a comment with a target for their peer. A useful way to do this could be with a What Went Well (WWW) comment based on the criteria and an Even Better If (EBI) comment based on what has been forgotten or needs improvement. This way all students are able to reflect upon outcomes; the outcome of the student’s work they are marking along with their own outcomes in their own work.

Peer assessment is another independent learning strategy that allows very effective development to take place. The independence garnered through this style of learning allows for a reflective and thoughtful approach to completing tasks. They will consider how their peers have completed tasks and take on alternative ideas and methods through reading through others’ work – not just a teacher’s exclusive guidance.

You can find out more strategies and methods for this way of learning if you browse the courses on our www.teach2030 site where you will find a dedicated course to Independent Learning. Alternatively we run monthly live workshops and presently the series is focused on strategies on Independent Learning. We’d love to see you there! Good luck!

Encourage Independent Learning in your classroom with Teach2030

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NEW! Developing Students’ Independent Learning Skills: Part 1

Introduce ways to make your learners more engaged! In this course, we define independent learning and how it differs from whole class learning.

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NEW! Developing Students’ Independent Learning Skills: Part 2

In this course, we outline 4 major strategies that can be trialled in the classroom to help students become more independent

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Independent Learning Workshop Series

By taking this ownership of learning, we are providing them with the lifelong skills they need for their future work lives.

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