Peer assessments and self-assessments are two ways to incorporate feedback that helps guide student learning and encourages reflection. These assessments give students the opportunity to navigate the learning process through the evaluation of themselves and their peers.

Peer assessment, or peer learning, is the process by which students learn from and with each other. It suggests a reciprocal learning process, and it should be mutually beneficial to students. When students engage in the exchange and explanation of ideas, it helps solidify their understanding of concepts, promotes collaboration, and encourages giving and receiving evaluation.

Self-assessment can be utilized at all stages of the learning process. Before a lesson, self-assessment helps the student activate prior knowledge. During a lesson, self-assessment helps students review what they understand and what they hope to understand by the end of the lesson. After completion of an assignment, self-assessment can be used to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the work.

Continue exploring ways to incorporate peer and self-assessments, or request assistance from the Center for Instructional Technology and Training.

Best Practices

Provide Clear Expectations in Peer and Self Assessments

When requiring students to assess their own work, or provide feedback to peers, instructors must provide students with detailed criteria for the assessment to help increase effectiveness. Providing detailed instructions and rubrics in advance will help students navigate the assessment and submit high quality work. For best practices and instructional resources to help you build quality rubrics, review Creating High Quality Rubrics.

Incorporate Peer Review

Peer review is the process by which students provide one another evaluative and constructive feedback. It can be a powerful tool with which instructors can employ authentic, engaging assessment in online learning. When implemented effectively, peer review can teach your students the valuable skills of evaluation and assessment. These skills, when fostered in your online classroom, can enable students to better their own work based on the feedback of their peers. Consider these best practices as you implement peer review:

  • Purpose, Process and Expectations: Assume that your students don’t know how to peer review. Explain the key benefits, the purpose, the process and all of your expectations up front.
  • Resources: Ensure that your students have the tools they need to succeed. Provide students with technical resources for any technology used, and provide a point of contact for any technical support. You may even want to provide them with a low stakes assignment to practice and master the peer review process.
  • Timing: Allow enough time for the peer review process and remember that one module may not be enough time to complete the activity. Consider breaking your peer review assignment into multiple parts or drafts over the course of the semester. This allows your students to benefit from their peers’ feedback early on, and it gives them the opportunity to improve their work based on this feedback.
  • Feedback: Model the respectful, informative and helpful commentary that you expect of your students. Discuss the difference between helpful and unhelpful commentary with them. If you are worried that your students may not buy into the process or take it seriously, consider asking them to verbalize how they will use the feedback they gain to improve their work.
  • Rubrics: No successful peer review assignment is complete without a quality rubric to guide students through the peer review process. Providing a rubric for your student breaks the assignment up into the most important component parts, and it teaches your students not only how to assess their peers, but also how to assess and improve their own work.

Promote Collaborative Assessments

Collaborative learning allows students the opportunity to work in groups, and evaluate each other’s progress. Effective collaborative assessments require an open-ended environment with focused tasks for students to solve. Including collaborative assessments may provide students’ additional opportunities to practice formal and informal peer assessment. Learn more about designing effective collaborative assessments by visiting Collaborative Assessment.

References and Additional Resources

Further Exploration

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