The educational benefits of peer review

What is peer review?

Peer review is the practice of having a student assessed by one or more other students. It can be used in a variety of situations to meet different objectives. For example, it will provide feedback on performance, either on the outcome of the work or on the process of the work (Elliott, 20051). In both cases, peer review has many advantages. We will detail them in this article, which summarises the scientific work on the subject.

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).

Proves the legitimacy of student assessment

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 the familiar and usual language, their feedback even facilitates understanding (Cho, 20067 ; Cho, 20088 ; Cho, 20109 ). Making students active in the pedagogical process also makes it possible to counteract the 'curse of expertise', i.e. the difficulty that experts may have in making explicit processes and mechanisms that have become trivial and automatic for them (Camerer, 198910 ). Beyond feedback, if students are asked to produce a grade in the evaluation process, it will be strongly correlated to the grade that a teacher would have given. Proving the validity of student-generated assessments (Falchikov, 200011 ; Freeman, 199512 ; Orsmond, 199613).

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).

Points to consider

There are a number of issues to consider in applying the method so that students can fully benefit from these advantages.

point-1

Authenticity

That the assessments are realistic and relate to the knowledge and skills of the students.

item 2

Transparency

Establish clear and explicit evaluation processes for all participants. It is important that the assessment criteria It is important that the assessment criteria are mastered by the students and that they are involved in the process of creating the criteria.

item 3

Fairness

That each student is able to demonstrate their abilities and knowledge. Therefore, they should be trained and prepared for the exercise so that they can all participate in the process with the same knowledge base.

point 4

Training

Using the method on a regular basis enhances students' expertise in the peer review exercise.

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Bibliography :

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18 Boud, D., and R. Soler. 2016. "Sustainable Assessment Revisited." Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 41 (3): 400-413
 
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20 Kearney, S. 2013. "Improving Engagement: The use of 'Authentic Self-and Peer-assessment for Learning'to Enhance the Student Learning Experience." Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 38 (7): 875-891.
 

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