Title: Students as partners or pawns in assessment: use of peer- and self-assessment to promote learning
Presenter and affiliation: Prof. Mark Davies – University of Sunderland, UK
Intended Audience: Staff who assess student work
Duration: 1 day: 8:45 AM to 3:00PM
Location:S45-006 ZAIN E-Learning Center, Sakheir Campus, University of Bahrain


Student self-assessment has been practiced in higher education since the 1930s and typically follows a standard model (see Boud, 1995). Self-assessment is embedded in reflection and holistic concepts of learning and is thought to promote autonomy and independence in students, but is not widespread perhaps because academic staff do not have shared understandings of assessment. While self-assessment, and indeed peer-assessment, bring many advantages, the standard model is lacking in absorption of information by students and does not promote the internalization of feedback. Further it can be time-consuming for staff.

Typically students submit both the work for assessment and a self-assessment of the worth of the work based on agreed criteria or standards along with a suggested mark based on the self-assessment. The tutor then feeds back on the work and on the self-assessment and the student, if s/he wishes, compares the tutor assessment and the self-assessment. The student effectively completes all s/he is required to do prior to the deadline and can effectively be otherwise passive (a pawn) in the process.

During this workshop we will consider the advantages and disadvantages of the standard model and participants will be asked to discuss whether peer and self-assessment should be considered mandatory and how improvements to the standard model can be made. Participants should be prepared to challenge their own beliefs. The output of the workshop will be a revised model that staff can use with their students to promote learning in students in a non-threatening manner through engagement with feedback. The limitations of the proposed model will also be explored. There is no intention to change how students are assessed, but to use the outcomes of the assessment (the grade and feedback) in new ways that will bring students closer to the process of assessment and thus allow them to understand more about what we, as assessors, are looking for when we mark work.

Whatever model emerges from the workshop it will be considered in the light of the seven principles of good feedback practice identified by Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006). Of course, being reflective practitioners, we will also consider the validity of the seven principles!

Learning Outcomes:

After the completion of the function, the participant will be able to:

  1. Critically examine her/his own practice in peer- and self-assessment.
  2. Appreciate how self-assessment models can be inclusive and empowering.
  3. Develop a workable system of self-assessment that will promote student learning

Link to UK Professional Standard Framework (PSF):

A1.     Teach and/or support learning
A2.     Assess and give feedback to learners
A3.     Develop effective learning environments and approaches to student support and guidance
K1.     Appropriate methods for teaching, learning and assessing in the subject area and at the level of the academic programme

Explicit links will be made to the areas highlighted above.  The workshop has a clear focus on assessment, enabling staff to become more comfortable with discussing assessment themes and sharing their practice with students.  Students will also be empowered as they move closer towards the assessment process.  Essentially the workshop is about A3 and considering alternative means of using standard assessments to promote learning.