Using Peer Review for Grading Purposes
While having students grade each other’s work can be a time-saving measure, it takes time and thought to incorporate peer evaluation into your class successfully. Here we describe some best practices to consider before implementing peer evaluation with your students. Benefits to peer evaluation include increased responsibility and autonomy, improvement in critical thinking, and improvement of structured thinking.
Many of the same considerations must be given when using peer review for grading purposes as for formative purposes (discussed above). However, there are some additional things to consider, and these are listed below:
1. As above (in the Using Peer Review for Formative Assessment section), it is not a good idea to suggest that the students are “doing your work for you”. Instead highlight the benefits of reading and critically analyzing others’ work.
Be aware that that some students may have negative perceptions of peer evaluation and perceive it as unfair (Smith et al. 2002, Kaufman and Schunn 2011). However, these perceptions may change positively as a result of participating in peer evaluation (Wen and Tsai 2006), so it is important to ensure that students get something positive from their first experiences of the process.
2. As above, it is important to provide an incentive to students to encourage them to take the grading process seriously.
3. It is very important to limit the peer evaluation component of the students’ overall course grades to reduce the perception that their grade is mostly left up to a non-expert or to chance. This is critical when you are piloting peer evaluation in your class.
4. Be sure to have a plan in place for how to deal with student complaints. You may want to set up a formal grievance process.
5. Consider whether your peer evaluation is going to be anonymous or not. Most of the software systems below are anonymous. If not anonymous, consider how you will deal with conflicts of interest, such as two best friends being assigned to each other’s work.