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Students Take Control- The Importance of Peer and Self-Assessment

Students Take Control: The Importance of Peer and Self-Assessment
Elizabeth Tjomsland
Teachers College of San Joaquin
Students Take Control: The Importance of Peer and Self-Assessment
In higher education, students are expected to work independently, often not showing their
work to their instructor until they submit it. This proves to be problematic due to the fact that
most students depend on the feedback from their high school teacher in order to produce the
required work. Teaching the students how to do peer and self-assessments allows the students to
become self-guided learners, gain valuable knowledge, and feel more comfortable with the
revision process.
When faced with the task of teaching others and evaluating their peers’ work, students tend to
gain knowledge. Sadler (1998) _____________________________
argues that students often have little to no experience judging the quality of work in the
article “Formative Assessment: Revisiting the Territory.” This proves to be problematic when it
comes to revision of their own assignments. Furthermore, Sadler (1989) states in his article
“Formative Assessments and the Design of Instruction Systems” that a major problem in many
classes is that students often do not know what is expected from them in their work. By allowing
the student to see another’s work, they are able to then compare their own work to the quality of
their peers and gain this knowledge. This, in the end, leads to better quality self-assessments.
Black, Harrison, Lee, Marshall, and Williams (2004) state in their article “Working Inside the
Black Box: Assessment for Learning in the Classroom” that phrases such as “I didn’t do that
either” or “I need to do that too” (p.14) are heard throughout a peer review session. By seeing
mistakes in their classmates’ work, students are able to recognize their own mistakes and grow
their knowledge of what is expected of them.
Additionally, Students tend to feel more at ease and gain knowledge while assessing each
other's work. Sadler (1989) claims that “the use of other students' work in a cooperative
environment assists in achieving some objectivity in that students are less defensive of, and
committed emotionally to, other students' work than to their own” ( p.140). It allows students to
practice their assessing on another student’s work without feeling the shame of failure. This, in
turn, allows them to transfer that knowledge to their own. Moreover, Sadler (1998) states that
peer assessment is especially helpful because students are more comfortable with the language
used by their peers and are more likely to engage in a positive discussion of the errors. Teachers
tend to use language that is at best boring and at worst confusing to the student. The language
used by peers will not only hold their attention for a longer period of time but might be easier to
grasp intellectually. Similarly, Black, et al. (2004) explain that students might not take their
teachers criticism seriously and are more likely to respond to the same feedback given from a
classmate. Peer pressure and expectations are at their highest in high school, and students want to
live up to their peers standards. As a result, this allows for the same feedback to be more
effective and bring about change in the students work.
Most importantly, by handing over the power to students, peer and self-assessments help
them to become self-guided and independent learners. Black, et al. (2004) argues that students
need to begin understanding their work as goals to achieve in order to gain competency. These
goals help the students grasp the full expectations of their teachers and understand how to
manage their own learning. Furthermore, Sadler (1998) claims that “...students should be taught
how to change their pattern of thinking so that they know not only how to respond to and solve
(externally sourced) problems but also how to frame problems themselves” (p.3). Therefore,
through peer and self-assessment, the students learn to recognize problems on their own which
leads to better understanding of the task. Overall, the goal in self-assessment is for the student to
transition from relying on feedback from the teacher to being capable of assessing their own
work (Sadler, 1989). This eventually will lead to mastery of the subject.
Altogether, peer and self-reviews allow students to gain knowledge in a comfortable
environment while forming them into self-guided learners. These skills are especially important
when students move on from high school into the fast paced and independent world of
university. Without the knowledge of how to guide oneself, failure is imminent; if the teacher
guides the student into taking control of his or her learning, success will follow.
Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B., & William, D. (2004). Working the black box:
Assessment for learning in the classroom. Phi Delta Kappan, 89(1), 9-21.
Sadler, D. R. (1989). Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems. Instructional
Science, 18, 119-144. Retrieved from http://pdf.truni.sk/eucebnice/iktv/data/media/iktvv/Symposium_LTML_Royce%20Sadler_BFormative_Asse
Sadler, D. R. (1998). Formative assessment: Revisiting the territory. Assessment in Education,
5(1). Retrieved from http://proquest.umi.com/pqdlink?did=30132759&sid=1&Fmt=3&cli