Marking and giving feedback

Self and peer feedback

"While peers may be unwilling to make formal assessment of their peers, they may be more positive when students have to give specific feedback of a descriptive nature for the benefit of their peers and no grading has taken place."

Boud, D (1986) "Implementing Student Self-assessment", Higher Education Research and Development, Society of Australia, Sydney.

Tips for establishing an effective self and peer feedback activity

  1. Spend time preparing students for the activity. Discuss the purpose of the exercise. Encourage students to think of it as an aid to developing not only their own understanding of the subject but also yours about what they've learned, and where the gaps might be. Point out that being able to give effective peer feedback is also an important skill in itself and is transferable to other situations such as the workplace.
  2. Help students to feel comfortable with what's expected of them, explaining the context for the activity and giving them opportunities to ask questions. Encourage them to work in small groups, if possible.
  3. Introduce the assessment and conduct with the group a thorough exploration of the marking criteria for the task. Make final marking criteria and mark sheets available to students.
  4. Consider, where appropriate, anonymising the outputs of the activity. Alternatively, start by giving students pieces of work to mark from a previous year or other unknown source to help them practise giving constructive verbal feedback before they begin work on their own pieces.
  5. Be clear about the organisation of the assessment - the date, time and materials students will need to bring to the session.
  6. Encourage students to self-assess their work before assessing their peers. Initially, students should not discuss their comments and marks with others unless part of a facilitated exercise by the tutor.
  7. Back in their small groups, students compare marks and written feedback on the activities, with the aim of arriving at a final mark and comment on a 'master' marking sheet.
  8. The tutor collects in all mark sheets. Marks on master sheets for each student are calibrated to arrive at a final grade to be returned to the student with all, or a sample of the most useful, comments. (Ideally return these to students before the following session so that they have time to reflect on the exercise in the light of feedback.)
  9. Use the following session as a debrief on key areas of strength and weakness in the task and lessons learned from the exercise.