Peer assessment is the assessment of student work by other students. This might be used for formative feedback or summative grading purposes. It has been recognised that engaging students in peer assessment can help them in learning to evaluate their own learning and in interpreting assessment criteria.
Further benefits might also include:
increasing feedback to students; reducing marking loads for staff; giving students a sense of ownership of the assessment process; encouraging students to be more involved and take more responsibility for their learning; encouraging critical analysis of student work, so students see beyond a mark/grade.
However, disadvantages may be encountered when students lack the ability to evaluate each other, do not take it seriously, or fear discrimination.
A Guide to Self and Peer Assessment by Paul Ormond is available from the Biosciences Subject Centre. This provides a good theoretical overview of peer assessment and examples of practice.
The All Ireland Society for Higher Education (AISHE) website offers useful case study examples of peer assessment in their Readings 2007 No.1 publication ‘Case Studies of Good Practices in Assessment of Student Learning in Higher Education', see for example, case studies 13 and 20.
Further examples in the HLST subjects can be found in the Case Studies section of the website.
There are an increasing number of online systems that can be used to enable students to assess the work and contributions of other students. See for example WebPA which is an open source online peer assessment tool.