Student experiences of peer review marking of team projects
2007-10-25T15:59:39Z (GMT) by
Peer review or peer assessment of students has been used in many places to motivate and focus students on their own development within a group work setting. Group work has its benefits for students as it allows many transferable skills to be developed. It also has benefits for tutors as it promises lower assessment burdens. However, critics of group work cite drawbacks including “free riders” and de-motivation of higher achieving students where their additional efforts are not rewarded. Peer review attempts to remedy such problems. Pressures of time, budget and student numbers often obviate deeper study of alternative but beneficial assessment techniques. This can preclude their deployment or marginalize efforts to discuss and analyse their effectiveness when they are used. The study reported in this paper, made possible by a “Small Grant to make a Difference” from the HEA, allowed for analysis of a peer review mechanism that had been operating for a number of years and a new web based peer review data capture system from the student perspective. The paper describes a specific module where peer review has been deployed and reviews the extant literature on peer review systems, paying particular attention to criticisms of such assessment techniques. The paper goes on to outline a research methodology whereby student perspectives and experiences of peer review were collected. The outcomes of the focus group methodology are then discussed alongside a brief analysis of quantitative data from the peer review systems used. Key conclusions from this research are that the method of data collection (paper based vs. web based) made no significant difference to the generally positive student experiences of the peer review concept. In addition peer review marks are not significantly affected by the data collection method either. Whilst much of the data collected updates, confirms and strengthens previous literature on this subject important new insights are gained into the emotional perspective of students, their desire to explain their marking of peers and their marking behaviours. The findings from this research are already being used to aid development of the web based data collection tool and to establish “good practice” guidance on the deployment of this valuable and innovative assessment technique.