IATEFL 2018: Effective peer assessment as a step towards independent learning – Agnieszka Łuczak

Agnieszka is going to tell us how peer assessment helps develop learning independence and give us some ideas of how to incorporate it in our classrooms.

Why use it?

  • It increases independence and autonomy but also their responsibility.
  • It develops students’ knowledge of assessment criteria.
  • Students can learn from each others’ successes and mistakes.
  • If our students know what they are doing and are engaged in peer assessment, it reduces our workload. It’s a great thing to see students doing something useful for them and have a breather at the same time.

Students are often skeptical of peer assessment.

  • It’s my teacher’s job
  • I don’t want anyone to see my work
  • I don’t know what to say/write
  • I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings
  • There are so many mistakes, I don’t know where to start

Students might be too generous, too critical, lack confidence etc.

How to fight the skepticism:

  • Explain to your students why they are doing it (A usually tells them if you know how to do peer assessment, and help your classmate, you learn more about the assessment criteria and what I am expecting from you and you will be able to self-evaluate more effectively. Highlight that mistakes are very welcome in the class. Don’t be ashamed of them. Let’s use them, discuss them.
  • Provide the necessary tools: checklists, language to assess
  • Monitor: we need to be there and listening, as a safety net. Encourage learning independence but need to be there
  • Make it regular: practice makes perfect, if it is regular they will see the benefits. First they have to be trained it and then they need to practice it in order to become good at it.

How to include it in class?

Peer correction

Nominate an expert: Give them a bell. They nominate a student to give an answer. If the student agrees, they press the bell and if they don’t, they have to say why. Teacher is an observer and only helps out as a last resort.

Homework checking: Put students in groups. One student is the leader. They have the answer key in an envelope. This can only be consulted if students disagree. They need to discuss first “I think you were wrong here, I think this is right because…” This simple homework check takes 10-15 minutes. They become confident about the answers.

Proof-reading: Students proof read each other’s work produced in class and correct it. Give them three areas to focus on and check for e.g. words we learnt last week, irregular past forms and articles.

Correction codes (see handout below): Students need symbols and example sentences with errors highlighted. Then students create sentences containing different kinds of mistakes and then swap with a partner who needs to find the mistakes. This is something they don’t usually expect but are good at and they gain a better understanding of the code. Once they have understood the code, they can use it to look at their classmates’ writing.

Checklists and feedback forms (see handout below): For presentations, for IELTS, for any kind of assignment where you have criteria. Simplify the criteria. Have one sheet with dated columns so that they can monitor progress. Use a likert scale and students have to justify the scores they give in discussion. “You said:…. You should/could have said/added… Action plan for round 2: ….. This time you managed to….” (She exemplified it using IELTS speaking exam practice – students in pairs, one is the student and one is the examiner. They make the action plan together. This can also be adapted for writing.

Monitoring the quality of peer assessment

Important to ensure that the feedback is useful. We need constructive feedback and it is not easy to give it. When students start giving feedback they don’t know how to do it. It’s a life skill so it is worth practising. So we need to give feedback on feedback. When students give feedback, A goes round and listens and writes down any good examples she hears. She writes them on the board for all to see. You could also draw attention to examples that don’t work. You can brainstorm useful comments and non-useful comments on a padlet and save them. Tutorials with study buddies could also be useful. Once a month A takes them to the computer room and sets a task for them. Then two peer assessment buddies come and work w

 

ith her. They give each other feedback on for example a piece of homework. She is there to help them and guide them. It’s very effective but timeconsuming and not easy to organise. Worth it, however, if you can, as students become more confident.

Testing

 

Get students to prepare questions.

  • Daily revision: students put questions in a hat. Play pass the parcel, whoever has the hat when the music stops has to answer the question. Hot potato: ask a question, throw it (a safe projectile) someone if they can answer they do or they say hot potato and throw it to someone else.
  • Revision quiz – 30 minutes to prepare questions, teams take it turns to answer the questions. It has the added benefit of making them practice making questions. Teacher is an observer/the last resort. 
  • Students, in groups, make a test for another group to answer.

agy.luczak@kingseducation.com

Question 1: how to deal with lower levels? Simplify the language used and build on it.

Question 2: what if quiz questions are repetitive? The first few times it might happen but as they get more competitive, there will be fewer. You could also get them to create 15 but only go through 10 so there are back up questions.

Question 3: What about teenagers? Make it more competitive, use a points system. With the correction code, let them create one.

I have done the putting students in groups to make up quiz questions for a review quiz thing before but I hadn’t thought of giving them question frames to help! 🙂 I like the checklists and feedback forms too. More food for thought! 

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