Implementing Peer-Assessment in the Classroom: A Case Study

Sharpe, Gemma (2015). Implementing Peer-Assessment in the Classroom: A Case Study. EdD thesis The Open University.



Widely accepted as a formative assessment strategy, peer-assessment is said to have the potential to motivate learners, encourage deep learning, and enable learners to acquire social, communication and problem-solving skills, which could impact upon the development of successful metacognitive thinking. Peer-assessment within classroom environments was investigated in one school by exploring learners' perceptions through the use of an attitude questionnaire. In addition both learners' and teachers' perceptions were explored through observations in classrooms and interviews. Themes were identified and then comparisons were made between learners' and teachers' perceptions of peer-assessment.

It was found that teachers adopted a formal, written approach to peer-assessment which appeared to have been influenced by school-provided Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and the requirement from a senior leadership team (SLT) directive to provide written evidence that peer-assessment was being conducted in lessons. Learners' perceptions of peer-assessment were positive, although attitudes varied when different approaches to peer-assessments, such as formal and informal peer-assessments, were put into practice. Themes relating to social and emotional factors were shown to impact upon some learners' levels of motivation, resulting in restricted participation in formal peer-assessment activities.

The importance of these findings highlights attributes of the accountability culture in schools, which is having a detrimental effect on the use of peer-assessment in developing sociocultural relationships between learners in this school. Learners are not, in many cases, using the feedback from peer-assessment to improve their work. Opportunities were missed to contribute to learners' abilities in self-regulation and their related development of metacognitive thinking. The power of SLT directives occasioned by the current accountability culture to overwhelm teachers' own pedagogical imperatives is demonstrated.

Peer-assessment in this school is shown not to be maximising the opportunities to enrich sociocultural experiences, as peer marking and feedback usually occur at the end of a learning cycle. Lessons in Personal Development are suggested as a way to offer opportunities for peer-assessment to be developed and then built upon across the curriculum, enabling learners to develop transferable skills which can be used for future learning.

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