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Impact of peer assessment on student understanding of the assessment process and criteria

02 July 2016
Volume 24 · Issue 7


Peer assessment has often been used and examined in relation to student engagement. There is also a place for investigation into the effect it has on students' perception and understanding of the assessment process and criteria used. This small-scale qualitative study indicates that peer assessment can have a beneficial effect on the understanding students have of the assessment process. Larger studies are required to determine whether this is a tool that can be used to improve student assessment outcomes, particularly in relation to students' understanding of the assessment criteria. This also involves them being more aware of what it is like to critically review a piece of work, and so enhance their ability to critically review their own work before submitting. It is has been shown that preparation for the task is of benefit but can be time-consuming. It is necessary to have a team of motivated lecturers who are willing to put in the time and effort to prepare students adequately for peer assessment.

Peer assessment has been used in teaching for many years, and the benefits to the student's learning when this method is used are well known (Ayres, 2015). The focus of this report is on the learning process in relation to the understanding students have of the assessment process and criteria; specifically, whether peer assessment aids their understanding of assessment criteria and marking and so promotes learning in this area. A small-scale qualitative study was carried out to assess this. This article will give details of the study, including a discussion of the findings and their application to practice.

Within the discipline of midwifery there has to be equal significance given to practice-based and theoretical learning, as stipulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC, 2009) and the Department of Health (DH, 2012). In the practice placement, a mentor who has received appropriate training will undertake assessment of the student. There are generally higher marks awarded in practice than theory, all of which combine to give an exit award at the end of the training. The written feedback given on any theoretical assessment may cause a great deal of anxiety and often requires verbal feedback from the lecturer to help the student understand the points made. Educationalists, in this case midwifery lecturers, have to complete a teaching course validated by the NMC, and an NMC mapping tool, to provide evidence that they have the knowledge, skills and experience to meet the criteria required for entry to the NMC register as a teacher (NMC, 2008).

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