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Assessment Compact Good Practice Exemplars

Enhancing learning with peer review

Enhancing learning with peer review

What’s the story?

This module employs group work and peer review in multiple formative assessments to enhance student learning. Students greatly appreciate the value for learning of giving feedback to their peers.

Module Information

Faculty: HLS
Department: Clinical Health Care
Module name and Code: U42597 Consolidating Strategies for Client-Centred Practice I
Level: 6
Number of students: 20
Module leader: Emma Lane
Contact details:


Aspects of the assessment compact scrutinised in this case study

This case study concerns an intervention concentrating on four Compact clauses:

Clause 2.1 – “Assessment is central to the curriculum, and there should be no distinct boundary between assessment, teaching and learning. All academic staff will therefore be encouraged to regard assessment as a fundamental and integral part of programme design, and one that is intended to shape and develop learning, as much as to judge and measure it.”

Clause 2.3 – “The relationship between learning outcomes and assessment tasks is made explicit. In addition, clear assessment criteria should be provided whenever possible, and always when the assessment contributes to marks, grades, or decisions about progression. Assessment judgements must focus on the achievement of the learning outcomes against the assessment criteria, and this achievement authenticated as the student’s own.”

Clause 2.5 – “students are given supportive, constructive and timely feedback as an essential part of their learning … and have a clear sense of what they need to do to improve, with subsequent opportunities provided to act on the feedback and to put the advice given into practice”

Clause 2.6 – “activities (e.g. marking exercises, self and peer-assessment, etc.) specifically designed to involve students in assessment, to encourage dialogue between students and their tutors, and students and their peers, and to develop their abilities to make their own informed judgments (assessment literacy).”

What aim(s) did you have in changing your assessment approach?

The aims of this assessment design were to maximise opportunities for students to get feedback on their work and actively engage students in assessment processes, including as markers (self and peer).

What change(s) did you actually make?

The feedback and assessment processes in this module emphasise formal, formative assessment tasks. Groups do presentations, including a practice or ‘mock’ presentation on which they get feedback, and skills workshops. Peer- and self-assessment are employed for these formative tasks. There is also an activity to engage students on the module with the marking criteria.

How did you evaluate this intervention?

The module was evaluated using a focus group. Over the course of a one-hour meeting facilitated by an independent OCSLD researcher, 11 student representatives from the module discussed the question, “How do formative assessments in this module impact on learning?”
All key responses to this question were noted and the nominal group technique was employed to rank them in order of their level of importance.

What do students say about this intervention?

The students were universally highly appreciative of things like an audio presentation (used as an exemplar to help them prepare), a peer review exercise, an exercise using the marking criteria, and skills workshops. The group agreed that they greatly valued these formative assessment opportunities. The five top rated responses by this group about assessment and feedback in this module were as follows:

  1. “Structure keeping us interested”
  2. “Good mix of student and staff feedback”
  3. “Learning from giving and getting feedback”
  4. “Structure shifted my focus from summative task to learning process”
  5. “Encouraging us to do independent study”

What has been the impact of this change in assessment?

The numerous formal structures for obtaining feedback about their work were both obvious to the students and highly valued. In this case students were highly appreciative of peer feedback activities. Especially important here is that students highlighted the learning gained from giving feedback to peers.
They felt that peer review caused them to evaluate their own understanding of the relevant topics and in some cases led to new insights. Using the assessment criteria to construct their feedback aided this process as well as helping them better understand how to interpret the criteria.
These students showed high levels of assessment literacy. This could be due in part to them having acquired, at level 6, considerable assessment experience. They likely had previous opportunities to develop their peer review skills and understanding of assessment processes and how they can learn from them. In general, the sooner students participate in peer review activity, the sooner they will understand its benefits.

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