Making the most out of peer and self-assessment in the classroom will make your marking easier

I have observed many different approaches to peer and self-assessment within the classroom. Some of it has been hugely impactful on the students, and others have been just ways to say that it was done; just paying it lip service - a literal box ticking exercise. Let’s ignore these and look at one of the best ways to use self and peer.

Doing peer and self-assessment property takes time. Treat it like an editing process, your brain is very good at zoning out when it believes something is established. It does not matter how many times you look at it you will not see the error. We have our tips proof-read by at least three teachers and errors slip out, so of course students are going to make mistakes.

The students need to be coached into doing this, like all our tips is it about the consistency. It should look something like this:

-  students should peer assess work first, they should be looking for mistakes in other people’s work, stuff they are seeing for the first time, this is done in a constructive way

-  they should not peer assess the student next to them, they are likely to have worked together and have a similar response, you want to mix it up at much as possible

-  this is a long process; give the students time to read and mark it, you should use the schools marking policy for this. To make this easier for the students you should give the them a clear set of criteria for what to look for in the work

-  once the peer assessment is done, before the students get their own books back remind them, what they have been looking for in the work they just peer assessed. If they have found something, they corrected in the peer assessment, then they should correct it in the self-assessment aspect.

Doing this in this order, peer -> self, will allow students to look for mistakes in other students work, this will make the students more likely to find mistakes in their own work after this. Doing self-assessment first is trickier, the students are not likely to be able to see the mistakes they have made. The act of looking to edit and find way to improve another student’s work will make students more likely to spot errors in their own work in the future and make them more likely so spot opportunities to improve their own work while they are doing it.

When I have spoken to teachers in the past to why we do peer and self a worrying response has been “oh, I was told to do it, I need the evidence in the book of it”. So, they spend ten minutes at the end of a lesson doing it. It doesn’t impact anyone, and in fact it wastes ten minutes of the lesson.

Again, with all the rethink tips it is the consistency that is key with this. The more you do it, the better students get at it, I have seen this have a huge impact on progress.

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