Developing Quality Peer and Self Assessment

In this post, I will go over a few strategies that I use in my lessons to improve the  quality  of peer and self-assessment.  While this is not a stand-alone training session but instead simply a collection of resources and tools that I use with my classes, they could easily be put together to become a discreet CPD session on developing skills in using peer and self-assessment.

Strategy 1: Aiding student reflection and metacognition

This is a very simple resource that I used in lots of my lessons as a plenary  between activities.  I have built a reflection display using the sentence stems here that occupies a wall of my classroom.

The sentence stems are as follows:

  • The most difficult thing was…
  • I think I need to improve on…
  • I now understand that…
  • I am now able to…
  • If I did my work again I would change…
  • I have learnt today…
  • The thing I enjoyed most about today’s lesson was…
  • The term………..was used today. It means…
  • A question I have about the lesson is…
  • The progress I have made today is…

The PowerPoint (attached below) can be randomised to provide an instant plenary or you can allow students to choose for themselves; the important thing is that the students are taking time to think carefully their learning.

Reflection posters

Strategy 2: Ensuring good peer-assessment comments

When teachers begin to use peer-assessment comments with their groups, they are often surprised at the poor quality of comments the students make.  The lesson to learn from this is that, like anything else, students need to learn how to be good at assessing work: we can’t just expect them to have as good a grasp of assessment as we have.  They need to learn how to assess work properly.  The great thing about peer-assessment is that if students develop skills in accurately judging and assessing other people’s work, they also improve at their own.

When students first start to peer-assess and they are not explicitly shown how to do this, they very often make comments like good handwriting,or write more next time, comments that give no guidance on how the work could be improved. The trick is to get them writing comments that explicitly look at the success criteria for the work and, in particular, which of these criteria have missed or used incorrectly.

Some strategies for building peer-assessment skills:

  1. Use a success criteria.  There is pretty much no point asking students to peer-assess a piece of work if they don’t have a success criteria or mark scheme to work from.  Otherwise, how will they know what they are judging the work against? The success criteria needs to be very clear and easy to understand, and students need to be reminded again and again that they should mention the criteria specifically when they set targets.
  2. Model peer-assessment for the students, using their own work.  This can be done in a variety of different ways.  One way that I often use is to take a photo of student work using my iPhone and then email it to myself.  I then add the image to a slide so that all the students can see it.  Finally, I assess it and write comments in exactly the way that I would wish them to.  Although I have yet to do this, another potential strategy is through using a webcam connected up to your interactive whiteboard to allow for ‘live’ marking.
  3. Get students to annotate success criteria on pieces of work. To help them get familiar with the idea of judging a piece of work against a criteria, it can often help to have them annotate the piece of work they are assessing with the criteria before they write comments.  If you get them to copy the success criteria down in the margin, they can also tick these off as they find them.  Finally, it can help to give the students a different coloured pen to do this, as well as to write comments, as this will stand out from the normal ink colour as well as feeling more like ‘proper’ teacher marking.  I use green.
  4. Give students examples of good and bad comments.  The attached resource is a list of ‘banned comments’ such as ‘Good handwriting’, and ‘Next time add more detail’ as well as a list of sentence starters for more success criteria based peer comments, for example ‘You have not met all of the criteria because…’

Good Peer Comments

3. Encouraging Dialogic Marking

This is a fancy way of saying that students should enter into a dialogue with their work and with each other about the improvements that they make to it.  The procedure for using dialogic marking is as follows:

  1. Students complete a piece of work according to a success criteria
  2. This work is marked, either by the teacher or by a student.  Comments are written which point out which criteria are missing from the work
  3. Students improve on their initial piece of work, attempting to make the improvements required
  4. Dialogic Marking: put the students in pairs and ask them to complete the following sequence of tasks –  a) Show your partner what you were told to improve. b) Explain to them how you improved it. c) Ask them to write a comment proving that you met your targets d) Swap and repeat.

When discussing their targets, I have found that it helps to give the students a ‘script’ to use, and some sentence starters / models to help them write good comments:


In the ‘write a comment’ stage, it is also useful if students are aware to base their comments explicitly on the initial target set and whether this has been met.  Any areas of shortfall should be mentioned in this.

Please find below slides containing the explanation of and resources related to dialogic marking.

Dialogic marking



, , , , , , , ,

  1. The CPD Paradox: Addressing educational disadvantage through improving professional development in schools | Teacher Development Trust

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: