Introducing peer and self-assessment for students

Peer and self-assessment is an essential aspect of ‘assessment as learning’ (formative assessment).

  • Peer assessment – involves students reflecting on the work of their peers against success criteria related to a learning goal and providing constructive feedback.

  • Self-assessment – involves students applying success criteria related to a learning goal, reflecting on their efforts, identifying improvements and adjusting the ‘quality’ of their work.

Peer and self-assessment for students further explores the processes and strategies for implementing ‘assessment as learning’, that were introduced in Phase 2 Aspects of assessment.

Meaningful peer and student self-assessment have the potential to positively contribute to student learning and achievement.
(Black, Harrison, Lee, Marshall & William, 2004)

A pathway towards student autonomy

Explicitly teaching students how to assess their own work and the work of their peers realistically and accurately can help to promote an upward cycle of learning.

An upward cycle of learning results when students confidently set learning goals that are moderately challenging yet realistic, and then exert the effort, energy, and resources needed to accomplish those goals.
(Ross, 2006)

The process of moving students from a reliance on teacher assessment and feedback to reliance on self-reflection and critical analysis of their own efforts encourages them to become more autonomous learners.

Diagram: Teacher assessment and feedback, peer assessment and feedback, student self-assessment and feedback leads to an autonomous self-reflective, analytical learner.

Through explicit instruction and modelling teachers can develop students’ skills in peer and self-assessment to support their development as more independent learners.

For more detailed information about ‘assessment as learning’ read:

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'Assessment as Learning’ revisited – A focus on peer and self-assessment (.pdf 122kB)
(Earl & Katz, 2006), (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010), (Arter, Chappuis, Chappuis & Stiggins, 2006)

Peer and self-assessment for students

Peer and self-assessment involves students using information to improve their learning and that of their peers.

Peer and self-assessment (Diagram text version)

Diagram on features of peer and self-assessment.

While there is considerable overlap between peer and self-assessment, each of these will be explored separately so that teachers can explicitly teach and model these vital learning skills.

Peer assessment

Peer assessment involves students assessing each other's work according to a set of criteria and offering feedback suggestions.

Peer assessment occurs best when students are familiar and comfortable with a cycle of assessment feedback action. That is, they are accustomed to:

  • using learning intentions and success criteria

  • receiving and applying improvement feedback from their teacher.

Successful peer assessment takes time and practice. Teachers need to explicitly teach and model how to provide feedback before handing over to students this important aspect of their learning.

  • Involve students in defining/clarifying success criteria – descriptions of what achievement of the learning intention/s looks like.

  • Work with samples – exemplars and examples make the criteria visible for students.

  • Teach students how to apply criteria – explicit instruction and modelling helps students understand what constitutes ‘quality’.

  • Provide guidance as students apply criteria – applying criteria to anonymous samples deepens understanding of the criteria.

  • Support students in peer assessment and feedback – prompts including sentence starters and feedback forms help students to give appropriate feedback.

  • Combine peer assessment with teacher feedback.

  • Develop and use peer assessment tools, (e.g. templates, checklists, rubrics).

  • Use the gradual release of responsibility model (i.e. teacher modelling, guided instruction, shared practice, then independent practice).

  • Develop some criteria (or ground rules) for giving effective feedback, to be used by students when giving and receiving feedback.

  • Insist, and require evidence, that peer assessment, feedback and improvements occur before students submit work or request teacher assistance.

  • Ensure that parents and carers understand why you use peer assessment and that it is only one of a variety of assessment strategies that you use.

For more detailed information about peer assessment read:

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Introducing peer assessment (.pdf 194kB)
(Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010), (Department of Education & Training Victoria), (Rolheiser & Ross, 2001)

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Strategies and tools that could be used to engage students in peer assessment (.pdf 169kB)
(Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010), (Department of Education & Training Victoria), (Rolheister & Ross, 2001)

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Peer assessment: things to try tomorrow (.pdf 97kB)

Student self-assessment

When teachers explicitly teach students to become effective self‐assessors, students are empowered to take charge of their own learning – a necessary skill for lifelong learning.

It is recommended that peer assessment precedes self-assessment for most students. Some students however, may be able to engage in the two processes simultaneously.

As with peer assessment, self-assessment takes time and practice. Teachers need to explicitly teach and model how to self-assess before students are expected to use self-assessment effectively.

In order for students to be successful self-assessors they need to be accustomed to:

  • using learning intentions and success criteria

  • receiving and applying improvement feedback from their teacher and peers

  • reflecting on how their work meets success criteria – analysing the effectiveness of their efforts.

As a result of implementing peer assessment the teacher will be:

  • explicitly identifying, sharing/co-developing and clarifying learning goals and success criteria

  • modelling the application of criteria using samples.

When introducing self-assessment:

  • provide guided opportunities to self-assess

  • provide students with feedback on the ‘quality’ of their self-assessments

  • teach students how to use feedback from self‐assessments to set learning goals and plan the next steps

  • demonstrate how students can monitor their learning and progress towards their goals.

To support self-assessment:

  • provide opportunities for students to self-assess at all stages of the learning process

  • make self-assessment a regular part of what students do during and after learning rather than a ‘bolt on’ activity

  • ensure students understand that self-assessment is about learning and improvement, not being right or wrong

  • explicitly teach, model and scaffold self-assessment

  • use a range of techniques and tools to enable students to gradually take increasing responsibility for their own learning and progress

  • teach students the language of self-assessment, such as evaluation, reflection, goal-setting and targets

  • ensure that parents and carers understand why you use self-assessment and that it is only one of a variety of assessment strategies that you use.

For more detailed information about self-assessment read:

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Introducing self-assessment (.pdf 193kB)
(Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010), (Department of Education and Training Victoria)

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Strategies and tools to engage students in self-assessment (.pdf 176kB)

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Strategies and tools that could be used to engage students in self-assessment (.pdf 125kB)
(Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010), (Department of Education and Training Victoria), (Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, 2007a)

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Self-assessment: things to try tomorrow (.pdf 80kB)