Some ideas for (peer) assessment

General strategy for assessment:

* research shows (1) that when the ration of class time to independent study becomes 1 : 3 or less, students will focus their time and energy much more on what and how is assessed (upto 95 % of their study time) than on what went on in the class room. So: choose the assessment format such, that it stimulates the learning you want to accomplish.

If all students should meet certain minimum standards:

* for each sub-topic in the semester every student is assessed on basic comprehension of the topic (e.g. by pre-exam, evidence of student in portfolio, report etc). Only after passing this test (sufficient, no grade), the student is allowed to participate in the final exam of the project

Peer assessment by students.

* give students several times per semester an assignment to be assessed. In tutorial students will assess each other’s work based on a given assessment form. Student gives anonymous assessment + feedback on assignment of other student. At end of meeting, student gets own work with (anonymous) feedback return. Repeat several times per semester; minimum number of assignments with feedback is prerequisite for participating in final assessment of semester.

Advantage: by assessing other people’s work, student will learn most important criteria. By multiple application of these criteria, these will become internalised. Furthermore, students have to make assignments regularly, which enhances learning.

* give students in tutorial two reports (one insufficient, one good) and let students assess those (without further instruction). Then discuss findings. Then give assessment of teacher of these reports, including argumentation (e.g. assessment form?). In following tutorials let students assess each other’s report. Teacher will check limited number of assessed reports, to see whether students did well.

* use standard assessment forms, that the student first has to apply on his own work (e.g. on a scale from 0 = not done to 20 = excellent), including argumentation why this assessment. Then in group have a discussion on this assessment and come to a group grade.

* students must learn how to assess their peers, so at first only use peer assessment as method for feedback. Only later in programme peer assessment can be used in real assessment of students.

* ask students to indicate which other student(s) did well (peer nominations); let students give the order of their group members’ contribution to the group result (peer ranking); let the student assess the contribution of each group members (including oneself) on an absolute scale (peer rating)


* let student hand in x-number of reports as prerequisite for participating in final assessment of semester. Teacher will select randomly only part of the x-reports, that will be assessed and be taken into account for final assessment of semester. Effect: students will have to make all x-reports well, thus spent enough time on assignments.

* group grading: randomly divide students in groups of 4 or 5. All students will take an individual exam. Grade of the group is the average of these 4 or 5 individual grades. Effect: each group member will benefit from helping other group members study.

(1) “Assessment Matters in Higher Education, choosing and using diverse approaches”, Brown and Glasner, ed. The Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press. 1999. ISBN 0-335-20242-X


“Toetsen in het Hoger Onderwijs”, Berkel en Bax. Bohn Stafleu Van Loghum, 2006. ISBN 978-9-031-34811-4

“How Learning Works”, 7 research based principles for smart teaching

Ambrose et al. Wiley & Sons, 2010. ISBN 978-0-470-48410-4


Author: ir. F.M.J.W. van den Berg, March 2013. S&O – Educational Service, University of Twente