Source: Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 45(1)
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study aims to identify the required areas in pre-service teacher education needed to develop assessment skills teaching.
For this purpose, the research questions in this study were as follows:
1. What are the opinions of social studies teacher candidates about the benefits of self and peer assessment?
2. What are the opinions of social studies teacher candidates about the limitations of self and peer assessment?
This research is a descriptive study conducted based on qualitative data and designed according to phenomenology, which is one of the qualitative research designs.
A phenomenological study describes the common meaning of several people's experiences of a phenomenon or concept (Yildirim & Simsek, 2013, p. 80).
The sample group consisted of 21 teacher candidates who were randomly selected from 87, 4th grade social studies teacher candidates who took the Special Teaching Methods II course at a state university.
It was decided to select every fourth teacher candidate from the class list in order be able to provide as many points of view of participants as possible to the phenomenon.
Teacher candidates participated in formative self and peer assessment practices for the first time during the course work.
Portfolios were used during the course to assess the students’ performance in the process and to help them gain experience in the implementation of self and peer assessment by being actively involved in both the learning and the assessment processes.
Teacher candidates voluntarily participated in the portfolio assessment process and consented to using portfolio scores as a final exam.
Students themselves decided which products and how many of them would be placed in the portfolio.
While developing works to be included in the portfolios, students received oral and written feedback (without a grade) from their peers every three weeks.
Students had a chance to rearrange their works according to the feedback before the final submission at the end of the term.
To move toward more transparency and openness, a rubric was prepared with the student teachers.
In addition to students’ products, the portfolio included self-assessment (written as self-assessment reports and self-marking their performances according to agreed criteria), peer assessments and a rubric assessment scale.
Self-assessment reports involved reflecting on their progress and evaluating their learning outcomes.
In this study, self and peer assessments were implemented primarily as means to help students become actively involved in both the learning and the assessment processes, in addition to assigning them a grade. In other words, self and peer assessment was used for both formative and summative purposes.
Data Collection Tool and Data Analysis
A semi-structured interview form developed by the researcher from observation notes, was used as a data collection tool.
The research data were collected with individual semi-structured interviews of between 30 and 40 minutes duration with 21 students in the final week of the course.
The interviews were recorded.
Raw data were transcribed and analyzed using a descriptive content analysis method.
Results and Discussion
Advantages of Self and Peer Assessment
The findings of this study demonstrated that self and peer assessment serve as a powerful learning activity rather than an assessment tool.
In other words, self and peer assessment is a valuable source of feedback for the professional development of initial teacher candidates.
In this study, it has also been concluded that peer assessment develops metacognitive awareness, helps in reviewing their own products, provides active participation in the assessment, enables them to learn to take responsibility, and to learn how to give and receive criticism.
The statements of teacher candidates demonstrated that analyzing their own studies according to the criteria improves self-assessment skills, supports their learning and clarifies expectations.
Teacher candidates reported that they had the opportunity to learn the strengths and weaknesses of their assignments during the peer assessment.
At all stages, but particularly at the beginning, learning from mistakes was key to moving on to the next stage of partnership in assessment (Cook-Sather, Bovill, & Felten, 2014).
The findings of this current study also align with studies showing that the participation of students in self-assessment increases their motivation towards learning.
For example, Cook-Sather et al. (2014) reported that key benefits of working collaboratively on teaching and learning are: enhanced engagement, motivation, learning, metacognitive awareness, teaching and classroom experiences, student-staff relationships and a stronger sense of identity.
Findings from this study showed that teacher candidates gained different perspectives and examples while examining the work of their peers during the peer assessment process which guided them in the completion of their own assignments.
Similarly, Vickerman (2009) found that by experiencing a range of writing styles, techniques, ideas and abilities, students learned from their peers' performances.
The results of this study showed that participating in the formation phase of a graded scoring scale increased the teacher candidates’ awareness about goals and expectations.
Similarly, Ballantyne, Hughes and Mylonas (2002) found that one way to involve students in the assessment process was to enable them to participate in the formation of the rubric scale (graded scoring) that is necessary for the assessment.
Preparing rubrics with students brought much-needed transparency to the assessment process, with its potential for positive impact on student learning.
Limitations of Self and Peer Assessment
Although there are strengths in self and peer assessment, the findings of this study also revealed that there are some limitations that need to be addressed to provide students with a valuable learning experience.
The limitations outlined by the participants included the difficulty in being objective, not having experience in scoring and the process being very time-consuming.
The difficulty in being objective resulted in many teacher candidates arguing that educators should be responsible for all assessments and that this task should not be given to the teacher candidates.
It was emphasized in the study that students should have a form for self or peer assessment with clear criteria, and supportive teachers who provide guidance.
In other words, the more transparent the procedures, the less likely are personal differences in standards and interpretation to influence marking.
Engaging students as partners in assessment can take time to set up but support and more practice can speed up the process (Falchikov, 2005, p. 149).
Students may question why they should step outside their comfortable, traditional role.
They can feel confused, even frustrated, when a different approach is proposed.
This resistance to change may be overcome when staff and students thoughtfully work together to co-design projects and responded to student concerns.
Educators need to be clear about the purposes and nature of the partnership, and be welcoming when inviting students into partnership.
It is also important to ensure that participation should be voluntary.
This partnership in assessment can help to share power, lead the students to take control in assessing themselves, break traditionally hierarchical boundaries, giving students a voice and an active role in their own and others’ learning experiences.
Ballantyne, R., Hughes, K., & Mylonas, A. (2002). Developing procedures for implementing peer assessment in large classes using an action research process. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 27(5), 427-441. https://doi.org/10.1080/0260293022000009302
Cook-Sather, A., Bovill, C., & Felten, P. (2014). Engaging students as partners in learning and teaching: A guide for faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.
Falchikov, N. (1995). Peer feedback marking: Developing peer assessment. Innovations in Education and Training International. 32(2), 175-187.
Vickerman, P. (2009). Student perspectives on formative peer assessment: An attempt to deepen learning? Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 34(2), 221-230.
Yıldırım, A. & Şimşek, H. (2013). Sosyal bilimlerde nitel araştırma yöntemleri. Ankara, Turkey: Seçkin Yayıncılık.