We are often fearful of getting our peers to judge us, is that because we fear they are incompetent at assessing us, or that they are so much like us that they will do it honestly and openly and notice all our hidden flaws?
Probably for the latter reason peer assessment by learners of learner is such a valuable method of assessment. Learners giving each other formative or summative feedback to each other can be a very positive activity, even if it is (to the learners) somewhat daunting.
There are many advantages to peer assessment. It can enhance learning through learners having to not convince you that they understand a topic, but also ensure that their peers understand the topic too. It allows for a greater depth of self-reflection by learners on the learning process. Peer assessment is daunting, but as a result can increase the confidence of learners as they need to work with each other. This working together builds social interaction across a group of learners and a support mechanism.
There are some issues and fears in regard to peer assessment. It can be an administrative nightmare. It is dependent on learners all taking part and not all will want to, some may not want to give the same level of effort as others. Conflict and arguments can arise, unlikely to happen with other forms of assessment, and will the learners have the skills and the confidence to resolve these conflicts. Some staff think that it will be challenging to do and that “exam boards” may object. Even some learners may object as they see the assessment process as an end and not as a learning process in itself.
One of the key features of peer assessment is communication and though e-mail and SMS is one way, the VLE allows for the communication to be more easily aggregated, sorted and assessed.
Any piece of peer assessed work, like any other piece of assessed work, needs a detailed briefing, time to discuss, both face to face and online, and guidelines and rules need to be in place. Once more the VLE is an idea vehicle to provide the online space for the briefing, online discussions, guidelines and rules. Providing a dedicated space on the VLE for the assessment will make it easier for learners to compartmentalise the assessment from other parts of the course.
Using the VLE allows learners to undertake parts of the peer assessment at a time and place to suit them; in college, at home, in the workplace or drinking coffee!
Peer assessment offers a different process of assessment that engages learners, builds relationships and improves learning. By undertaking that peer assessment through the VLE ensures that it is easier for learners to work together, discuss, share and refer to in the future.