Learning is not a linear process and includes misconceptions, so by creating a space for students where they feel comfortable making mistakes, instructors can set them up for success. While the fear and anxiety in students can be quite daunting and can negatively impact their outlook on life peer assessment can alleviate this to create a positive learning environment.
Here are the topics we will be covering in this article:
- 4 Reasons why Students fear Peer Assessment
- 4 Benefits of Peer Assessment
- How to make Peer Assessment work in your course to reduce Fear and Anxiety
4 Reasons Why Students Fear Peer Assessment
For many students, peer assessment is a new experience. Students grow accustomed to only submitting work to their instructor and receiving their feedback. But the real world is very different. Students must learn to receive and accept feedback from their peers, superiors and subordinates. Let us examine some of these fears below:
1. Fear of Judgment
Students build up anxiety around peer assessment because they fear being judged by their classmates. Students are often self-conscious about the work they create, and criticism from other like-minded peers can feel daunting. Students fear that their work may not be good enough and their peers will judge them negatively as a result. On the flip side, students may also be hesitant to give poor marks for fear that they will be disapproved of. Part of getting over this involves encouraging students and reminding them of the importance of learning from others and how their opinions are not negative criticisms.
2. Devaluing peers’ feedback
Another reason that students may fear peer assessment is that they don’t believe their peers are qualified to provide them with good-quality feedback. This causes students to have anxiety about whether they are receiving a fair grade on their work. While professors may be more qualified to accurately determine a numerical grade, the written feedback from a diverse group of peers is very valuable for resolving ambiguity in writing and teaching students to appeal to a wider audience.
3. Too many opinions may convolute their understanding of the topic
Traditional education methods cause students to become accustomed to only receiving feedback from one viewpoint, their professors. As a result, students begin to believe that their professor's opinion is the only one that is right. Students may fear peer assessment because it forces them to consider various different opinions, which can be overwhelming. However, in reality, hearing these different opinions only expands their minds and helps their critical thinking abilities.
4. Language and cultural barriers
Another common reason students fear peer assessment methods is the belief that language and cultural barriers will get in the way. Students become anxious as they wonder whether or not their work will be perceived the way they intend by someone who does not speak the same first language. While this is a logical fear, learning to write in a universal tone that is not ambiguous is a necessary skill to learn when preparing to enter the workforce.
4 Benefits of Peer Assessment
While the fears mentioned in the previous section are valid, they are easy to overcome. This is because the benefits of peer assessment are quickly realized by students, causing the process to get exponentially better with each peer assessment activity.
1. Quality of work improves
Peer Assessment enables students to learn by becoming evaluators. By analyzing the work of others through a more critical lens, students automatically gain a deeper understanding of the topic. In traditional classrooms, students often forget about the material after they submit their assignment; however, peer assessment methods hammer home the material by forcing them to think about it multiple times in different ways.
2. Opportunity to grow
As students progress through the semester and complete multiple peer assessment activities, they become stronger evaluators, and they are not only giving great comments but are also able to determine an accurate grade. With Kritik, students receive feedback on every evaluation they complete to help them understand how critical and motivational it is. Professors can guide students with explicit instructions and descriptive rubric items to help them grow into expert evaluators by the end of the semester.
3. Learn diverse perspectives
While some students fear language and cultural barriers in peer assessment, the reality is that they truly open the door to a unique learning opportunity. Every student has their own experience and story to tell, and by giving peers a space to share these opinions, they become exposed to many great ideas. By reading other students' creations and listening to the peer critiques of their own work, students can think critically and consider multiple perspectives, which ultimately allows them to create something much more robust.
4. Students learn important life skills
The true importance of peer assessment is that it forces students to step outside of their comfort zone and develop the lifelong skills of giving and receiving critical feedback. This is something that many students and young people in general struggle with, so by introducing it early on, they are more comfortable with the idea of criticism by the time they enter the workforce. Giving feedback in peer assessment ultimately helps students build confidence and become more mature as they start to see themselves and their peers as professionals.
How to Make Peer Assessment Work Well in your Course?
Peer assessment must be implemented effectively in order to ensure students realize the maximum benefits, and there are a few simple tips instructors can follow to achieve this.
1. Clearly State the Objective of the Assessment with Guiding Questions
When the objective of the assignment is clear to the student, they know what is expected of them. A few guiding questions can enable them to think in the right direction, avoid confusion, and produce better-quality work. This will give them more confidence and allow the unique opinions of diverse students to flourish.
2. Provide Guidelines on What to Look For when Reviewing
Peer assessment provides an excellent opportunity for students to grow into expert evaluators throughout the semester. Of Peer assessment provides an excellent opportunity for students to grow into expert evaluators throughout the semester. Students naturally improve over time, but by providing them with explicit guidelines for what reviewers should be looking for and clearly defining the rubric levels, students will improve at a much faster rate. Teaching students how to be critical and motivational so their evaluation is both useful and well-perceived is important. Helping students learn to review and provide suggestions instead of simply editing their peers' work creates a sense of community amongst students as they all contribute to each other's growth.
3. Use Peer Assessment more than once in a term
Since peer assessment is a skill developed over time, it is important to use it frequently in a semester instead of just once. Every time students complete an assignment, and they will improve as evaluators and begin to realize more benefits of peer assessment. The more comfortable the students become, the more invested they become, and, as a result, the ceiling for pedagogical value is raised exponentially.
Make the change with Peer Assessment!
While students may have their reservations about peer assessment initially, it works to negate a lot of the anxiety they experience in a traditional classroom. Instructors should take the time to educate their students on the benefits of peer assessment before introducing it in an assignment. When peer assessment is implemented effectively, students will quickly realize its benefits and the psychological fear fades away. Peer assessment facilitates a positive sense of community in the classroom and instills students with confidence and other life long skills that will help them be successful in life and their profession.
Schedule a demo with our team today to discover the power of anonymity in peer assessment.
 Graf, N., & Menasce Horowitz, J. (2019). Most U.S. Teens See Anxiety and Depression as a Major Problem Among Their Peers. Retrieved 24 August 2022, from https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2019/02/20/most-u-s-teens-see-anxiety-and-depression-as-a-major-problem-among-their-peers/