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Principles for using self and peer assessment

1. The purpose for using self and peer assessment should be explicit for staff and students

A major reason for using self and peer assessment is for its role in developing students' skills in improving learning and in helping students to improve their performance on assessed work. Additionally, it has a place as a means of summative assessment.

2. There is no reason why peer and self assessment should not contribute to summative assessment

In many such cases such assessment will not contribute a major proportion of the mark until it has been well tried and tested. However, in a well-regulated scheme, there is no reason to limit the proportion of the marks involved. It is particularly important that the principles below are noted.

3. Moderation

For any situation in which the mark from peer or self assessment contributes towards the final mark of the module, the member of staff should maintain the right to moderate student-allocated marks. The initial step in alteration of a student-allocated mark may be negotiation with the student(s) concerned.

4. Instances of unfair or inappropriate marking need to be dealt with sensitively

Any instances of collusive ('friendship') marking need to be dealt with sensitively and firmly.

5. The quality of feedback on student work must be maintained

In situations of self and peer assessment, students are usually in a position to learn more than from situations of tutor-marked work. They learn from their engagement in assessing and frequently from oral, in addition to written feedback. However, the tutor should monitor the feedback and, where appropriate, elaborate it to ensure that students receive fair and equal treatment.

6. Assessment procedures should always involve use of well-defined, publicly-available assessment criteria

While this is true of all assessment, it is particularly true where relatively inexperienced assessors (students) are involved. The assessment criteria may be developed by the tutor, but greater value is gained from the procedure if students are involved in developing the criteria themselves.

7. Involvement of students in assessment needs careful planning

Many students see assessment as a job for staff, but at a later stage they are likely to recognise the benefits to their academic learning and skill development. Initial efforts will take time and tutor support. For these reasons, it is preferable that the use of peer and self assessment is seen as a strategy to improve learning and assessment across a whole programme. The common situation is for these assessment procedures to appear in isolated modules, often not at level 1.

8. Self and peer assessment procedures should be subject to particularly careful monitoring and evaluation from the tutor and students' point of view

It can take time for such procedures to run smoothly and for this reason, the initial involvement of relatively few marks - or solely formative assessment is wise. Student feedback to the tutor on the procedure will be important.

9. The use of peer and self assessment should be recognised as skill development in itself

Such procedures are not just another means of assessment but represent the development of self-appraisal/evaluative, analytical, critical and reflective skills. These are important as employability skills and can be recognised in the learning outcomes of a module.


Produced by the Education Enhancement Unit, University of Exeter 

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