Facilitating evaluations

FAQ Peer Review

How many assessments should a student be asked to do?

This will depend on the type of work to be assessed and the amount of time you want students to spend on it. After a certain number of assignments, students are no longer motivated to give quality feedback. We recommend between 3 and 5 assignments per student.

Is it better to set up an individual or group evaluation?

Both are possible. If you want a certain volume of assessment per copy, it may be worthwhile to ask for individual assessments. You may also decide to ask for a group assessment to get more qualitative feedback, but less.

How can we ensure that the evaluation of students is valid?

One might therefore question the legitimacy, the ability of students to produce feedback. But in reality, students can produce feedback that is as qualitative and quantitative as that of the experts - the teachers - and, using simpler jargon, closer to colloquial and usual language, their feedback even facilitates understanding (Cho, 20067 ; Cho, 20088 ; Cho, 20109)

What weight should be given to student evaluation?

Each case is different, but we observe a percentage of the final score between 25% and 50%. You can also weight the peer evaluation with other criteria: participation in feedback, quality of feedback given, cross evaluation with intra evaluation, etc.

How to construct an evaluation grid?

The criterion should focus the student's attention on a specific element or skill to be assessed. Ideally, a rating scale should be added to assess the quality of a criterion. This scale is common to all criteria. We recommend using between 3 and 5 levels of assessment.

Example: Not acquired, In progress, Acquired, Expert.

Ideally, each degree should be related to an observable.


Criterion: Written Expression

Not achieved: More than 10 spelling or syntax errors.

In progress: Up to 10 spelling and syntax errors. Vocabulary is varied.

Achieved: No errors in syntax or spelling. Vocabulary is varied.

Too many criteria can be discouraging, and the same score is given everywhere. 5 criteria seems to be a number that works well with students.

What is the ideal frequency for a peer review?

To encourage a deeper level of engagement, begin the peer review process early in the term so that students have sufficient time to reflect on the feedback they receive and apply it to their learning. Studies have shown that early revisions focus on substantive content-based changes, while near-term revisions involve finishing changes focusing on grammar, word substitution and spelling (Baker 2016; Cho and MacArthur, 2010). In a short 12-week course programme, the ideal design would begin peer review activities in week 3.

As with any practical activity, peer activities need to be regular and repeated so that students can gain lasting knowledge. A clear timetable where teachers define the beginning and end of each activity will also help students to organise themselves.

The educational benefits of the method

Makes students active in the evaluation process

Students from kindergarten to the end of their higher education are assessed. For them, it is a logical process in which they are passive, as it allows them to validate their achievements or not. With peer assessment, the student becomes active in the process and takes ownership of it (Brindley & Scoffield, 19982). Thus, assessment becomes a formative element and therefore an opportunity to improve on mistakes rather than a sanction showing failure. Furthermore, by judging the work of others, students gain insight into their own performance through that of their peers. This allows them to understand - or better understand - their mistakes (Brown, Rust & Gibbs, 19943 ; Zariski, 19964 ; Race, 19985).

Generate a large amount of feedback

By questioning the question of the student's passivity in the evaluation process, we come back to a central point: the objective of an evaluation. This can be summative, in order to generate a grade, or formative. In either case, it serves to generate feedback on a student's production in order to help him or her progress. However, in the university world, assessment is mainly used for certification purposes, seeking to validate a UE, a diploma. Obviously, the problem is the lack of time of the professors, or the number of students too large. But with peer assessment, the assessment process is transformed into a method that generates a large amount of feedback, and it is known that the use of feedback is the pedagogical method that leads to the most progress in students (Hattie, 19876).

Skills development

To verify these effects, one can look at the impact of peer assessment on student performance. Peer assessment is a powerful tool for improving student performance, making learning more sustainable over time and increasing overall academic performance (Double, 202014 ; Relatedly & Vickermann, 200915 ). But it also allows the development of many skills. The combined action of evaluative judgement and the production of feedback - specific to peer evaluation - enables the method to develop, in particular, autonomy, confidence in one's abilities, collaboration, communication, team spirit, critical thinking, reflexivity and the ability to learn to learn (Reinholz, 2016 16; Slavin, 1990 17; Relatedly & Vickermann, 200915). These skills are all the more important as they are close to the world of work, allowing students trained through peer review to be more ready, trained, for the world of work (Boud & Soler, 2016 18; Weaver & Esposto, 2012 19; Kearney, 201320). These skills are what have been called soft-skills, or attitudinal skills, which are further developed through 'intra-group' peer assessment, focusing on the processes and attitudes of working within groups (Kennedy, 2006 21; Conway, 199322). Intra-group assessment also has the advantage of reducing the number of free-riders - students taking advantage of each other's work in group projects - (Conway, 1993 22; Kench, 200923)(see our article on intra-group peer assessment).

Increased commitment

On the student side, the method is also generally perceived as pedagogically relevant and satisfactory, which increases student engagement in the work required (Elliott, 2005 1; Relatedly & Vickermann, 200915). Finally, peer assessment fits well with strategies of method triangulation - an educational programme comprising several methods that enrich each other(see our article on the contribution of self-assessment to peer assessment). (Topping, 2003 24; Cho & MacArthur, 20109).

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