Self and Peer Assessment

It is a peculiar thing to reflect upon a type of assessment that I have rarely seen in the years I have been a student. Back in college, it appeared that only teachers had a monopoly on the way assessments were designed and administered and as I meandered through my masters and postgraduate courses it was peppered mostly with assessment for learning and assessment of learning. Looking back, it appears that the educational system favors individuality more than group work and if there is collaborative effort it is a means to award each student with the same final grade.

The last time I had undergone self- and peer assessment was two trimesters ago for two education subjects. Both required group work with fellow students who I have never met before and online. For one subject, my groupmates were active in collaborating, sharing their thoughts, and sending communication online and offline because of the nature of the assignment and project (e.g. fieldwork, survey). In contrast, the other subject confined me and my classmates to a Googledocs until the very end of the assignment. There were a lot of factors that facilitated teamwork: technology, similar goals and objectives, individual effort, instructions/assignment. But the major difference was the clarity of instruction, personalities, and delegation of tasks. One groupwork was halfheartedly felt because of the lack of personal connection and motivation, while the teamwork for the other subject worked out perfectly. And these translated into the self- and peer-assessment rubrics both subjects required from us at the end of trimester. To some degree, there is assurance that self-assessment scores can be validated by peer-assessment scores, but at the same time, there was some hesitancy to grade oneself and others objectively particularly since it would reflect my character and other peoples’ character. One needs to ask: Am I being fair and true to myself? Am I being fair to others who have also worked on the project? What if my perception of my level of work is different than my groupmates?

Now, I have a greater appreciation of self- and peer-assessment as a tool to empower students in the learning and assessment process, yet that power and involvement must also be accompanied with a teacher who appreciates this type of assessment and who can guide students to become critically reflective and objective in social activities and assignments.