Learning and teaching

Peer Assessment

Peer assessment engages students in reflecting on, commenting on and in some cases grading each others' work.  A well-structured peer review activity can be a powerful tool for learning:

  • it encourages deep learning
  • it helps students develop an understanding of assessment criteria
  • it provides students with additional feedback coming from multiple sources
  • it makes tasks and assessment criteria easier to understand
  • it helps to develop professional skills

However, there are some issues that need to be addressed for peer review to be a success. The most common issues include:

  • cheating and plagiarism – A common student, as well as tutor concern, in relation to peer feedback and assessment is students stealing each others' ideas.
  • subjective marking – Some students may sometimes be resistant to giving low marks to their peers or afraid to give any negative or critical feedback. 
  • lack of confidence to assess – Some students might feel that they do not have sufficient knowledge to give advice to others. Some might also feel that it is their lecturers' job, as they are the experts, so refrain from giving any feedback.
  • lack of engagement – Students often find it difficult to engage with the task as they don't see the value in it, especially when they previously had a bad experience with peer review. This sometimes happens if peer review does not count towards the grade, or the students are not given an opportunity to act on the feedback that they receive.