Activity 8

Self and Peer Assessment

"The criteria for evaluating any learning achievements must be made transparent to pupils to enable them to have a clear overview both of the aims of their work and of what it means to complete it successfully".
"It is very difficult for pupils to achieve a learning goal unless they understand that goal and can assess what they need to do to reach it. So self assessment is crucial to learning."

REFLECT: How far do you agree with each of these statements?

The argument proposed by the AfL team is that peer assessment can be a stepping stone to self assessment - that peer and self assessment feed each other and improve the quality of teacher-pupil communication about learning.

Furthermore, the act of placing a pupil in the role of ‘teacher' is a powerful learning tool, creating opportunities for the use of peer language which can particularly assist struggling pupils in grasping difficult issues.

However, to be effective peer assessors, many pupils need to be taught the skills of peer collaboration. Some pupils find it difficult to listen to their peers and build constructively on their contributions. When left to their own devices in small groups, many pupils tend to argue rather than collaborate.

Here are some ground rules devised by a group of ten year olds for their collaborative group talk:


  • We share our ideas and listen to each other
  • We talk one at a time
  • We respect each other's opinions
  • We give reasons to explain our ideas
  • If we disagree we ask ‘why'?
  • We try to agree in the end 

(Mercer 2000, page 162)

While peer and self assessment can make important contributions to the quality of pupil learning, they do need to be carefully introduced and managed.

READ: Read this section on 'Peer assessment and self assessment' from Working inside the black box.

EXPLORE: Using this material to guide you, experiment with a form of peer assessment in one lesson. For example, you might simply invite pupils to work in pairs to read and comment on each other's writing during a lesson.

In a different lesson, experiment with some for of self assessment. You could create a form for the pupils to fill in about some aspect of their learning or you might ask them to respond to some trigger questions on the board.

WRITE: In the light of your experiences, write about the most effective ways of managing peer and self assessment in the classroom. What learning gains can be achieved when peer and self assessment approaches are used?

(Allow 40 minutes)