Peer assessment assisted by technology

Sarah Honeychurch, Niall Barr, Craig Brown, John Hamer

Abstract


A common theme from the National Student Survey is that students want more feedback, but increasing the amount of teacher-student feedback is not practicable. Peer assessment, if carefully supported, can be a cost-effective solution as it can deliver a high volume of feedback within a short time frame. In addition, peer assessment can help to reinforce transferable skills such as collaboration and communication. Yet despite this, and despite the emergence of computer-assisted tools, the uptake to using peer assessment in higher education (HE) is patchy. This paper gives a brief analysis of some of the major online tools available and assesses them from the point of view of a large, traditional university. It then uses case studies to examine staff and student perceptions of peer assessment and shows that having staff dedicated to supporting the technique and the technology has been a major reason for the moderately successful uptake of peer assessment at this institution. The paper concludes that, where there is sufficient support for technology enhanced learning and teaching there is scope for supporting a suite of complementary tools for peer assessment.
The case studies we present show that, while students may initially be dubious about the value of peer assessment exercises, those who participate benefit from them, reporting that they feel more confident about completing future, teacher-assessed assignments. We conclude that peer assessment is a valuable addition to courses, and offer some brief suggestions about how to successfully support it.

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