What students think of peer assessment
Keywords:peer assessment, problem-based learning, learning story,
Following on from previous action research by the author on the role of self and peer assessment in students’ learning within group projects the present case study used an action research framework to examine students’ experience of assessment on a ‘constructively aligned’ (Biggs, 1999) second year module of an Honours degree programme in Early Childhood Education and Care in the South of Ireland. The researcher presented assessment tasks and negotiated assessment criteria with students at the start of authentic projects as recommended in the literature (Topping, 2009, p. 25). Students were required to produce a ‘learning story’ focused on a particular child in accordance with the pedagogy of quality child centred assessment practices (Carr M. , 2001; Dunphy, 2010). The study reports on a number of related areas including students’ opinions of peer assessment, students’ preferred study method and self assessment of learning skills and ratings of assessment tasks. A social constructivist paradigm can facilitate student learning through applying criteria to assess and provide feedback on each other’s work(Rust, et al., 2005). A questionnaire delivered at the end of the module revealed that students do not like peer assessment for various reasons including; the potential for conflict within the class, potential bias and lack of confidence in peer judgements compared to the tutor. The study poses a dilemma for the author and other educators applying social constructivist approaches to learning which attempt to involve the student in peer assessment. The researcher suggests as peer assessment requires collaboration and working together this can be at odds with an individualistic, competitive education system. Further research on student experience of peer assessment may explore the interaction of age and gender on the emotional climate of group work and the transitions within the Zone of Proximal Development as students move to expert knowledge within project work. (Tillema, Leenknecht, & Seegers, 2011; Vu & D'all Alba, 2007; Davis, Kumtepe, & Aydenez, 2007; Taras, 2010). (Key words: peer assessment, problem based learning, learning story)
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