Hexthorpe Primary School
Aims: To improve pupil’s confidence and understanding with Peer Assessment
Timescale: The study took place from February2009 to November2009, therefore spanning two school/pupil intakes
At Hexthorpe Primary School many AfL practices are embedded in our teaching and learning. However like everything in life, there is always room for improvement or new innovations and ideas. So after being chosen to take part in the Shirley Clarke Action Research Project, I was open to anything new, but also going there with some prior knowledge of AfL.
Developing peer assessment was the area I focused on in school. Over the years I had used ‘Two stars and a wish’ as a peer assessment tool. Children knew the success criteria and read each other’s work before filling in a ‘Two stars and a wish’ proforma. At the time I thought it was both worthwhile and useful. However after the input from Shirley Clarke, I realised that there were things I could do to make it much more effective.
Many of the elements introduced or developed in the Action Research Project influenced me on how to develop peer assessment, as well as making it an even more effective teaching and learning tool. These elements were:
- Modelling using a visualiser
- Talk partners
- Developing success criteria (both pupil and adults)
I approached the development of peer marking by establishing the three elements mentioned above. In class I went back to basics, I knocked down the building blocks to success and began rebuilding a stronger and better foundation. This was done so that the pupils had a clear view of what was expected of them, when they peer marked.
Firstly we went over what was meant by success criteria, making sure everyone understood the success criteria changed with every task/activity. Talk partners were used to discuss success criteria as well as what was expected from the pupils when they Peer Marked. Modelling, I saw as the key to success with peer marking. Pupils had to know what they were looking for. Even if the pupils said what the success criteria was, it was important to me and all the other adults in class to be sure the pupils could identify the success criteria in the piece of work.
The piece of equipment which supported the modelling element was the visualiser. In the past I have used pieces of work that were typed and put on an IWB. However using the visualiser gave greater impact, because of how instant it is. Pupils can look at pieces of work completed by their peers. Being able to show a piece of ongoing work directly onto the screen helps pupils in various ways.
- Modelling excellence as an aid to support others. If pupils see a piece of a high standard covering all the success criteria, pupils are aware of what to aim for.
- Identification of the elements of the success criteria.
- Highlighting areas of excellence/ areas to develop
- As part of a mini-plenary to support and develop pupils’ work, whatever the subject area.
Once I had re-visited the elements, the class was ready to peer mark successfully. From the work done with Shirley Clarke, we approached peer marking in a slightly different way.
A peer-marking contract was discussed and each pairing adhered to it. This reinforced the idea collaborative learning and the ideal that everyone’s work is valued.
Peer marking took place in pairs. Each pair read each other’s work then peer marked in partnership. This was done using the given success criteria, talk partners and ‘Two stars and a wish’ or ‘Box and Bubble’ showing positives and areas to improve.
Talk Partners – Pupils worked in mixed ability pairing. Higher ability and middle ability pupils developed the lower ability pupils’ understanding of the elements within the success criteria. This led to a reciprocal learning process. The higher ability and middle ability pupils articulated and extended their understanding by having to explain to others. Lower ability, through repeated practice and verbal interaction developed their ability to locate the elements of the success criteria within the task.
Impact of Peer Assessment
Right from the beginning I could see that the impact on the pupils’ learning was going to be a positive one. The pupils were:
- More engaged in their own learning
- Aware of what constituted a successful piece of work
- Able to identify the success criteria in pieces of work and were able to transfer knowledge from one task to another
Pupil willingness and confidence to make comments upon peer’s work in a positive, constructive and often sensitive way.
All the adults who worked with me throughout the Research Project agree that peer marking has had an impact.
The pupils’ ability to be able to look critically at a piece of work and evaluate its success and its areas for development has had a great impact on their learning. It helps to develop the ‘I can culture’, which leads to a more motivated and confident child.
I like it when I know what I’m looking for
It’s great to get help from others
I feel proud when my work is displayed for others to see
When I look at someone else’s work it gives me ideas to improve my own
Working together helps me to understand what I’m looking for