This inquiry focuses on the theory of peer assessment and how, when combined with collaboratively developed success criteria, it has the potential to improve the quality of written work produced and learner independence when embedded effectively into everyday practice.
Peer assessment came to the forefront of teaching and learning in 1998 after Black and Wiliam released their research into AfL in ‘Inside the Black Box’. Subsequent research has since strengthened and furthered their theory that effective peer assessment has the potential to improve pupil learning and progress if it is embedded consistently and effectually.
The intervention focused on a group of set 2, Year 9 learners whose quality of written work in MFL is currently at a standard below the expected level for their ability, and who are incapable of working independently. The learners participated in snowballing activities once a week over a period of 4 weeks. During these lessons, the learners were encouraged to work both independently and collaboratively to critique work in conjunction with success criteria. In doing so, the pupils learnt how to identify strengths and weaknesses in a piece of work and provide constructive feedback to aid further improvement and progress. As such, this intervention meets the Welsh Government’s priority concerning Literacy and in particular section 9.WS1 of the LNF which requires learners to be able to reflect on their work and redraft it independently.
During the intervention, several data collection methods were used to explore what was happening as a result of the intervention and provide answers to my research questions. Observational data were collected via an observation schedule and journal notes, quantitative and qualitative data were collected from a class questionnaire, semi-structured interviews were utilised to collect data from both colleagues and a focus group pre-intervention as well as a structured focus group interview post-intervention to obtain learner voice. Finally, data were also extracted from pupil work before, during and after the intervention.
Data analysis revealed several key findings:
- When applied routinely and effectively, peer assessment can have a positive impact on learning gains.
- Barriers including ability and subject knowledge need to be acknowledged and addressed.
- Guidance and sharing of good practice are needed for consistency throughout the curriculum.
Of course, the intervention has varying merit for each learner involved as every child is unique and as such, in order to fully discover its true impact, further implementation and modification would be required.