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The impact of self and peer-grading on student learning

Ananda Verheijen
July 4, 2016
A common teaching practice is to give students detailed feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of their work, with suggestions for improvement.

However, besides the fact that providing teacher feedback is often a time-consuming job (Wind & Jensen, 2017), the impact of teacher feedback is sometimes regarded as poor (Sadler, 2010). For example, if students would only receive feedback after they have submitted their final work, they might not effectively process this feedback, despite the investment of considerable time and effort put into its construction by the teacher.

Needless to say, relevant and helpful feedback on work is important to ensure a good learning experience for students. But instead of receiving it only from a teacher, relevant feedback could also be provided by peers as a combined solution to the above challenges (low impact of teacher feedback and considerable time/effort made by teacher). Hence over the years, peer assessment as a learning method has become more and more popular among teachers (Wind & Jensen, 2017).

But how about self-assessment and peer review?

In the Peer Review tool built by FeedbackFruits, it is possible to add self-assessment to assignments where students provide each other with feedback.

Early research of Sadler (2006) has illustrated that by adding self-grading / evaluation to peer assessment, one can achieve increased student learning. Asking students to not only reflect on received peer feedback but to also review their own contributions increases the interest and motivation level of students. It also aids in the development of critical skills. However, it should be noted that in the study of Sadler (2006) ideal conditions for student self-assessment existed. Specifically, the students in this study were well trained (in grading themselves and others) by the teacher and had access to a rubric provided by the teacher that codified their own and the teacher’s judgment.

Hence, providing students with the right learning materials and instructions is key in this case. In order to digitally support these ideal conditions, FeedbackFruits has focussed on building rubric functionality (mentioned in the previous blog) and extensive instruction possibilities. The teacher instructions are provided as a first step in the student flow, well before students will actually review (step 1 in the tool). Additionally, students are reminded of the instructions and how to provide constructive feedback during the actual process of reviewing with real-time feedback tips (EUR project currently in beta). Finally, once the activity is completed, FeedbackFruits provides analytics to both student and teacher on the ratio of given self-assessments to received peer assessments. This metric makes it easier to compare a student’s own evaluation to those made by others. Concluding, by featuring the concept of self-grading in this newsletter we have highlighted both the pedagogical value as the practical value as a time saver.

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