‘Peer review’: a powerful peer assessment tool for Moodle

Peer assessment overview

As mentioned in one of my previous posts, I strongly believe formative assessment is key to quality learning, and is in line with the IB MYP approach to teaching & learning. When I found the ‘Peer review‘ assignment type I was excited and I have not been disappointed with it.

In a nutshell

Students upload their assignments, they are then given (at least) two of their classmates’ assignments to peer review, against a set of criteria defined by you. Each student has their work reviewed by two peers (at least) and once that is done, you review the work yourself. This is an extremely powerful learning tool!

The essence of it

The developer and maintainer of the ‘plugin’ strongly believes that assignment criteria should be as simple as possible to understand for students for maximum efficiency. From experience, I can vouch for this as well. When setting up the activity, you are asked to create a set of ‘Yes/No’ criteria e.g. the essay has a title. Students (in my case 11-18 years old) find it easy to understand and I also find that it helps them assess their own work. The criteria are usually quite easy to setup if you had a mark scheme to start off with. I usually have between 10 and 15 criteria depending on the task, but I don’t think there is a limit to the number of criteria you can set. Once the criteria have been set you are ready to go.

 

 

 

The great…

Peer assessment is awesome!

When doing my PGCE I remember colleagues telling me “how much time you can save getting students to peer mark”. While this may be true to some extent in some situations, I don’t believe this is the case. However, students can really benefit from it as they get an even greater understanding of the task at hand.

Peer assessment can now be done at home, properly

I lack time to do this kind of work in lessons, but I find this to be a very meaningful homework. As long as you explain the criteria thoroughly -I often define the criteria with my students, guiding them to choose the ones I had  pre-defined prior to starting the task, and adding their own – students will be just fine doing the peer reviewing at home. Though my area of expertise is 11-18 olds, I am pretty sure that this type of peer review would be suitable to students of a much younger age, such as middle/upper Key Stage 2.

Students are asked to give constructive comments

When all criteria have been checked by a student, they are then asked to write a comment on their peer’s work. This part is the most challenging for students, but also the most rewarding. I usually give them a minimum of words to write and a few ideas. The most able students usually have no problems finding ideas of their own, but I find that less able students benefit from having set phrases (I have a web page set up for that) that they can use and ‘fill-in’ really helps.

Some of the work is done for you

I said earlier in my post that peer assessment does not really save time, well it does a bit, let me explain. Say student A has their work reviewed by student B, student C and student D. If Students B, C and D all ‘agree’ on their review (i.e. they all ticked the same boxes), then there is a good chance that their review is accurate and you can then only ‘scan’ the work, looking for missing pieces. This might shave off only a couple of minutes per student, but that quickly adds up to an hour if you have a big class 🙂

Lots of support

The creator and maintainer has really made an effort to document and provide support for his work (videos, etc.). This is to be noticed and is much appreciated.

… and the could be (will be?) great

Groups are not yet supported

I share all but one of my Moodle courses with colleagues, and while it is great for sharing resources and our workload, peer assessment should really happen within the same teaching group (in my opinion anyway). One workaround that I have found is to make as many copies of one assignment as there are teaching groups in my courses and make each copy available to one group only. This is not perfect by any means but allows me to use this great plugin which would otherwise be useless to me.

Teacher cannot assign work to be reviewed by particular students

I teach in an all inclusive school, and while I have a great time in the classroom, differentiation can be challenging. I have some very able students and some students who need more support. Sometimes, I would like to be able to assign particular assignments to particular students so that everyone can benefit from the task as much as possible. The solution described above (using groupings) allows for this to happen to some extent but is cumbersome to maintain.

Labels are not supported

It would be great if criteria could be ‘grouped’ together, unfortunately this is not yet supported.

In short…

I love this assignment type, use it all of the time and really think that my students have benefited from it a great deal. A million thanks to the developer!

7 comments

  1. Hi Frederic,
    I’ve recently heard about this module, I tested with a little help of my friends and we found it very useful. So useful that I translated it into Catalan (ca_uf8), my mother tongue, and send it to the author.

    I asked Michael de Raadt, the author, how about a version for Moodle 2.0 and he told me he is thinking of doing something very soon. I believe it will be a great new.

    However there are some advices about using this kind of assessment. The first one is not abuse of it. I think it can be used in homoeopathic doses: no more than 1 or 2 per course. The second one: no more than 5 criterion, students can get puzzled if there are more than 6. And finally: don’t do it at the very beginning of the course: you’d better test crystallized knowledge.

    I’ve written a post about it in my blog and found the same conclusions than you. It’s a great module!

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