08 Oct Preparing students for a peer assessment? Here’s how to do it!
You are convinced of the benefits of comparative judgement and want to integrate the method into your teaching. You’ve done your research and know the principles behind the method, you came up with an engaging assignment for your students and set up a peer assessment in the comparing tool. In short, you’re ready. But when you explain the assignment to your students, hands go up in the air: “why do we have to assess each other, isn’t that your job?” You hadn’t counted on that question…Preparing your students for a peer assessment with the comparing tool? The following tips will help you get started!
You want to proceed as follows: Students will create a first version of the assignment and upload it into the comparing tool. They will then compare and comment on each other’s work during a peer assessment using the tool. Based on the peer feedback students receive and insights gained during the peer assessment, they will write their final version.
Sounds like a plan, but how can you prepare your students for a peer assessment with the comparing tool? Get started with the following tips!
Introduce comparative judgement in a subtle way
Initially, it may be useful to introduce comparative judgement to your students in a subtle way, without talking explicitly about the method and theory behind it. For example, in preparation for the task they are going to do themselves, have your students rank tasks from previous years in groups according to quality. You can do this simply on paper.
Have the students reflect aloud as they compare the works. You can give them some questions such as “Which piece of work do you think is better/less good?”, “Why is one work better than another?”, “On what do you base that choice?” and “Why do you think that is important?” Have them write down these criteria. Afterwards, you can compare them in class with the criteria you use as a teacher (often in your head). You will see that they are very similar. Thanks to this exercise, the students also immediately have a clear idea of what is expected of them. This will make it easier for them to work on the assignment themselves.
Give a demonstration of the tool
In the next step, whether in the same lesson or not, you can give a demonstration of the comparing tool. Show how you make comparisons and give feedback. Refer to the previous exercise and this time do explicitly name the method of comparative judgement. Explain that comparing is a simple and natural way to make a quality assessment. Comparing two works gives you a concrete point of reference, namely the other work. This is easier than judging a work by itself using an abstract list of criteria.
In addition, explain that peer assessment is also not about judging, but about what the students can learn from it. The fact that they have to make a choice about which product is better forces them to look for distinguishing factors. In each comparison, students will have to pay attention to something different. In informational texts, for example, when one text has a lot of information and the other has little, it is easy to point out the better text. But when, in a subsequent comparison, both texts contain the same amount of information, students must look for another criterion to differentiate between the works. After looking a little deeper into the texts, one turns out to be much more readable than the other because it is better structured. In this way, students construct for themselves a frame of reference regarding the quality of a text.
Provide guidelines for feedback
In a final step, it’s also a good idea to talk about giving feedback during class. After all, you want students to start reworking their first draft based on the peer feedback they will receive. It’s important then that that feedback is of a certain quality.
First, point out to them the value of giving and receiving feedback. In fact, by giving feedback, they learn to give language to what they perceive. In addition, they learn to look critically at the work of others and thereby reflect on their own work. Moreover, thanks to peer assessment, they receive much more and more varied feedback than a teacher could give alone.
Finally, you can also already provide concrete guidelines for giving feedback. If, as a teacher, you choose to give feedback on criteria, you can already explain the specific criteria in class. If, on the other hand, you choose to have students give feedback on strengths and weaknesses, then you can ask students to name one strength and two weaknesses, for example. Also explain exactly how they should word their feedback. For instance, for feedback on weaknesses, you can include questions for students to answer.
- What problem do you observe? The text is not well structured.
- Why do you think that is a problem? This makes it more difficult for the reader to follow the text.
- What could be a solution? For each new idea, start a new paragraph.
With these tips your students will be fully prepared for a peer assessment with the comparing tool. The advantage of this method is that you as a teacher no longer have to give interim feedback. Moreover, students learn a lot from such a peer assessment. You will notice that the quality of the final versions is much higher.