An online query from a fellow student enrolled in an online class with me asked “How do you use peer assessments?” which I thought was a dynamite question. As educators, I think sometimes we undervalue and overlook the role that peer review has on helping other students learn from one another. Some notables:
- “Peer relationships are more balanced and the partners tend to bring similar levels of ability, reasoning and skill to their interactions.” (Ladd)
- “Peer evaluations have shown to be a significant indicator on student’s academic performance.” (Gibbs)
However, they are tricky. How do you structure peer assessments in ways that don’t create resentment among groups of students? I find Google Forms awesome for this. For my graduate class on COETAIL, we used Google Forms quite often to evaluate the work of our peers and I found that my middle schoolers are just as adept as using this tool.
As my students are presenting digital stories on different strands of earth’s history this week, I created a form to evaluate the work of groups after they presented. This has a number of great features and here are some things I’ve learned to use them more effectively:
Evaluation forms are more engaging than merely asking the class: “Do you have any questions for the presenter?” which may offer only a small number of responders. This digital interface makes feedback more accessible.
The forms can be submitted anonymously so students can be more honest with one another.
3. Formative Writing
Paragraph responses can allow for formative writing pieces and freedom to address key points from the presenter or teacher.
The spreadsheet of responses can be filtered for the specific presenter/s to copy and paste in emails to students.
5. Question Tip
Having the first question as a “warm and fuzzy” usually helps the presenters warm to critical feedback by making them feel at ease. I’ve found that a ‘sandwich’ technique with feedback – positive, cool, positive can elicit more conductivity.
- “Using Assessment Strategically to Change the Way Students Learn”. Gibbs, Graham
- “Children’s Peer Relations and Social Competence: A Century of Progress,” Ladd, Gary