Guiding students through peer assessment for success

Professor Karen Sunabacka is an experienced instructor of Music Theory at the Department of Music at the University of Waterloo. Within her theory-based courses, Prof. Sunabacka coaches and guides her students through peer assessment by creating a welcoming educational environment.

Since her courses require close attention to detail where theoretical knowledge is directly applied to music assignments, Prof. Sunabacka outlines her approach with in-depth rubrics and transparency on how to provide critical feedback to their peers. This has positively impacted student confidence and engagement.

How peer assessment makes students better learners

“I only have so much time and I just found that students wrote that much more than I ever could for the amount of time I have for grading. It forces them to notice things and respond. There is much more engagement in the evaluation process.”

As students become exposed to different pieces of feedback, it allows them to learn from a wide range of perspectives on the course. Students begin to engage in a deeper evaluation process that increases the overall engagement and quality of their feedback to their peers.

“I wasn’t sure if students were looking at their graded assignments. I would see the same mistakes over and over again which can be discouraging. When the students have peer assessment they have to engage. Which means they are learning a bit more than that.”

The process of evaluating peers encourages students to gain an alternative outlook on the grading process. It encourages students to be more mindful about what they are being evaluated by using the easily accessible rubric to score their peers. Students can then make connections back to their work as they get a chance to look at their peers’ assignments. 

1. Helps build confidence

“I think students learning how to communicate with each other in a way that doesn’t put them down but raises them up, I think is helpful in the grading world. In the music world especially, you have to learn to work together.”

In the traditional professor-only grading environment, students may get discouraged as they can feel like they are the only ones making the same mistakes. With peer assessment, they are able to see their peers' understanding of the topic. 

Given the opportunity to share feedback on their peers’ submissions, students are able to quickly identify errors and make thoughtful suggestions to their peers to help them improve. The process of student evaluations allows them to immerse themselves into the content by connecting their learning directly to the rubric.

2. Increases Student Interaction

“I tell my students when I introduce them to peer assessment that this needs to be a place where we’re encouraging one another. We are trying to find mistakes but we are trying to encourage each other to do better and then talk about how this can be helpful.”

Not only does peer assessment address and enhance your students’ confidence, but their confidence is supported by the student interaction it brings to the classroom. When students gain constant evaluations and feedback from their peers, it amplifies their voice and helps them feel heard and valued for their unique opinions and perspectives. 

3. Increase Student Engagement

“It's really great to see [students interacting]. This means that they didn’t just see the assessment, they actually went deeper than just noticing it and forgetting it before the next assignment.”

Engagement amongst students in peer assessment allows them to gain insight into the perspectives of others that are experiencing the same learning environment and taught information. This empowers strong conversations amongst students and opens them up to interpretations of the information ultimately resulting in deeper learning.

Student confidence and student interaction can be adopted hand-in-hand when it comes to success in learning. With Kritik’s peer assessment, you are able to strengthen the relationships between your students to support their personal and educational growth. 

Schedule a demo with Kritik today to see how peer evaluation can help make your students better learners.

Karen Sunabacka
Karen Sunabacka
University of Waterloo
Associate Professor of Music

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