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10.3: Peer Feedback

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    Dr. Melissa Cain from The University of Queensland explores the many advantages of providing and receiving peer feedback.

    MELISSA CAIN: Have you ever been asked to provide feedback to a friend or colleague? Did you find that easy? What concerns did you have? Were you worried that your feedback wouldn’t be welcomed or that it might not be helpful?

    Alternative assessment methods such peer assessment are growing in popularity and have been found to receive a more positive response from students than more traditional assessment approaches. Engaging in peer feedback as part of the formative assessment process develops a range of critical thinking skills and is important in developing deep learning competencies.

    Stephen Bostock, Head of the Centre for Learning, Teaching and Assessment at Glyndwr University relates that there are many benefits in providing and receiving peer feedback. Engaging in peer feedback gives students a sense of belonging and encourages a sense of ownership in the process.

    This type of engagement also helps students recognize assessment criteria; and develops a wide range of transferable skills. Interacting with their peers in this manner provides learners opportunities to problem solve and reflect. It increases a sense of responsibility, promotes independent learning and encourages them to be open to a variety of perspectives. Commenting on the work of peers enables learners to engage with assessment criteria; thus, inducting them into assessment practices and tacit knowledge. Learners are then able to develop an understanding of standards which they can potentially transfer of their own work.

    Challenges of peer assessment

    There are, however, some challenges surrounding the provision of effective peer feedback. Ryan Daniel, professor of creative arts at James Cook University, suggests that there exists the potential for resistance to peer feedback as it appears to challenge the authority of teachers as experts.

    Indeed, students themselves have strong views about the effectiveness of peer assessment methods. This includes an awareness of their own deficiencies in subject areas; not being sure of their own objectivity; the influence of interpersonal factors such as friendship; and the belief that it is not their job but the teachers’ to provide feedback.

    Learners may also be cautious of being criticized by their peers and worry about a lack of confidence in their ability to provide effective feedback. Part of this issue relates to the issue of teacher power in the classroom. As this power is usually considered absolute by students, they may in fact, consider their role to please teachers rather than demonstrate their learning in providing feedback. Providing effective peer feedback cannot be a one time event. Learners need to be prepared over time to provide effective feedback.

    Spiller (2011) suggests that learners need to be coached using examples and models and should be involved in establishing their own assessment criteria if possible. Teachers should demonstrate how they can match the work of a learner to an exemplar which most closely resembles its qualities. And everyone should engage in rich discussions about the process following the provision of peer feedback. As students become better at providing peer feedback over time, they gain confidence and become more competent at it.

    Learning to provide peer feedback has many advantages. Most importantly, when students evaluate their peers’ work and provide timely, specific, and personalized feedback, they have the opportunity to scrutinize their own work as well. And this is a critical factor in deep learning.

    Peer Critique: Creating a Culture of Revision

    Your students can improve their work by recognizing the strengths and weaknesses in the work of others.

    Be Kind, Be Specific, Be Helpful

    Click here to watch video from Edutopia: (4:32 minutes)


    Using Self and Peer Feedback as Assessments for Learning

    Click here to watch video on using self and peer feedback as assessments for learning. (2:44 minutes)


    10.3: Peer Feedback is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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