Reconsidering university students’ experience of peer assessment practices

Year: 2019

Author: Yang, Min, Yang, Lan, Xu, Hui Xuan, Lee, Theodore Tai Hoi, Han, Christina, Song, Baoru

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper explores the utility of a Feedback Triangle framework (Yang & Carless, 2013) for understanding students’ experience in peer assessment and self-assessment (PASA; c.f., Harris, Brown, & Harnett, 2015). PASA practices involve students in dialogical feedback processes that induct students to assessment and feedback literacy regarding how to make critical evaluative judgment and comment on academic work (Boud & Carless, 2018; Sadler, 2013). The current research employs a quasi-experimental, multi-method approach. The quasi-experimental design allows comparison of students’ learning outcomes with and without training in feedback provision, thus providing concrete evidence on the pedagogical outcomes of PASA. The multiple methods provide triangulated information on the role of PASA in students’ learning.

The research involved nine teachers at three departments of a faculty of education in a higher education institution. The PASA practices focused on training students to use feedback prompts (i.e., guiding questions) in giving peer-feedback and self-feedback. The prompts were informed by Hattie and Timperley’s (2007) model of feedback levels (feedback focusing on task, process, and/or self-regulation). Five teachers implemented PASA practices in their classes, which served as experimental groups; four teachers did not implement PASA practices and their classes served as control groups.

Methods included pre-/post-test PASA surveys (n=165) and focus groups (3 groups; n=13) with students, and teacher interviews (n=4). We mainly investigated participants’ perceptions of peer assessment, though self-assessment was also implemented in some classes involved – teachers had flexibility in implementing PASA practices. Survey results showed a generally positive trend, with experimental groups indicating more positive perceptions of PASA than the control groups. Qualitative findings identified some mismatches between teachers’ and students’ perceptions, especially regarding the social dynamics and emotional impact of peer assessment.

Hence, this paper reconsiders university students’ experience of PASA practices through the lens of Feedback Triangle (Yang & Carless, 2013), exploring three questions: (1) To what extent did the content of peer feedback obtained in PASA practices support students’ learning improvement? (Cognitive dimension on peer/self-feedback content) (2) What roles did social relationships and emotions play in students’ experience of PASA practices? (Social-affective dimension on interpersonal negotiation of PASA) (3) How did the design of PASA practices, including the use of technology, influence students’ engagement and uptake of peer feedback? (Structural dimension on deployment of assessment and resources supporting PASA)