Peer evaluation

Brief Description

Peer evaluation is an effective collaborative learning strategy. Related to self-assessment, peer evaluation encourages students to critically examine a task and its performance, then communicate constructive suggestions for improvement. In the process of examining the work of peers, students reflect on the meaning of quality work in general, especially when consulting a detailed rubric or checklist as a guide.

The use of peer evaluation in group work can increase motivation, engagement and social presence in a course while maximizing instructional time. In effect, the students themselves provide feedback to one another, while the instructor focuses on more targeted guidance. The key for successful peer feedback is a constructive, honest environment in which students feel safe to share honest, yet helpful criticism.

Through monitoring one another, based on a rubric or checklist, students ultimately learn to better self-assess themselves, a skill which pay dividends throughout their academic and professional career. As additional benefits of peer evaluation, students learn to:

  1. apply course concepts and skills to solving problems
  2. collaborate with others towards a common goal
  3. examine diverse perspectives and ideas
  4. assume greater responsibility in the learning process
  5. apply (and possibly create) objective criteria to judge the quality of a task or performance

Peer evaluations also resolve the "free rider" problem with group work, that is, the tendency of students to rely on team members to take the initiative in completing group assignments or tasks. By adding an element of accountability and critical review, students will more likely exert effort to ensure a positive review from their peers (and create a good impression).

Examples

There is no one way to implement peer evaluations. Though students can utilize many software and survey tools, the most common at UWL include the following:

  • Qualtrics (very powerful survey tool)
  • Google Forms (capable, more novice-friendly survey tool)
  • CATME (see below)
  • D2L Survey tool (use for online or blended courses that use our learning management system)
  • other survey tools, such as SurveyMonkey

CATME is a specialized tool designed specifically for peer evaluation. This free web-based application accomplishes two tasks: first, the software can randomly assign students to teams, based on criteria identified by an initial survey. Criteria include such items as availability on weekends, leadership style, writing skill, familiarity with PowerPoint, and major. After creating the groups, CATME then pairs students to anonymously rate one another, based on set criteria. Unfortunately, instructors cannot edit or add criteria, though they can select categories to include on the team-maker and evaluation surveys.

Tips to Implement Effectively

  • To implement an effective peer evaluation students must fully understand expectations in advance. Set clear goals and expectations for the process.

  • A detailed rubric or checklist is critical to ensure evaluations are respectful, constructive and helpful.

  • To avoid emotional complications and hurt feelings, provide examples of effective evaluations. Be sure to emphasize as required characteristics that evaluations be respectful, constructive and helpful.

  • To encourage self-direction and responsibility, allow students to create their own rubrics or checklists (though you should still approve prior to use as an actual assessment tool).

  • Allow students to practice peer evaluations, preferably in the form of a self-assessment or a peer review for a low-stakes activity (e.g. class or online discussion).

Resources


Schankman, L. (2015). Peer evaluation. In Teaching Improvement Guide. University of Wisconsin at La Crosse Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from http://www.uwlax.edu/catl/teaching-guides/teaching-improvement-guide/how-can-i-improve/peer-evaluation/.