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Assessment in secondary science
Assessment in secondary science

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4.3 Peer and self-assessment

Peer assessment is an important tool in enabling students to develop as independent learners. Independent learners are able to self-assess effectively and to use metacognitive skills to regulate their own learning.

Being able to monitor your own progress against learning outcomes (i.e. to self-assess) is important in becoming an independent learner. Discovering for yourself how to move forward (i.e. to use self-assessment formatively) develops self-regulation and self-efficacy.

To be successful, you need to consider the conditions that impact on self-assessment or peer assessment. Sebba et al. (2008, p. 17) gives three important conditions:

  • Developing a positive classroom culture in which students feel able to discuss learning and develop effective student feedback.
  • Moving from a dependent to an interdependent relationship between teacher and students that enables teachers to adjust their teaching in response to student feedback.
  • Involve students in ‘co-designing’ the criteria for evaluation to help them to develop a better grasp of their own strengths and weaknesses. Students need to be aware of the targets they are trying to achieve, and these should focus on outcome not process goals.

Reflection point

Consider the points above. Which is the most surprising? What factors may need to be emphasised in your teaching to establish a classroom culture that is conducive to peer and self-assessment?

Activity 7 Students’ role in assessment

Timing: Allow about 90 minutes

Read Bet McCallum’s document report ‘Formative assessment – implications for classroom practice’ [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] (McCallum, 2000); then watch the video clip ‘Self-assessment and peer-to-peer marking’ (Alternative link here). (Alternatively, you can read a transcript.)

Summarise the key research findings about peer and self-assessment in relation to student performance.

Make a list of any strategies that are given for using peer and self-assessment in lessons.

Use the reading and the video to summarise in a list what you will need to do and be aware of if you are to implement peer and self-assessment successfully in your own practice.

Embedding peer and self-assessment can take time, but can reap rewards for both teachers and students. Peer and self-assessment help students develop self-regulation. As they learn to become more self-regulatory and therefore independent in facilitating their own learning, they are able to monitor, direct and regulate their own actions towards their learning goals. Peer assessment provides opportunities for students to reflect on their own work and that of peers, a process that builds higher-order thinking skills. They will also become more engaged in their learning, and will build their confidence in discussing work with peers in a reflective, collaborative process.