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Peer Response vs. Peer Grading

blendedlearning's picture

Peer response is a tested and respect teaching strategy. By reviewing and critiquing peers' work, students are expected to both help one another advance their projects, but also to gain insight into their own work. Ideally, it fosters reflection and self-awareness. It's less about evaluation and more about adding an extra dimension, and particularly a hands-on dimension, to the learning process. Peer grading, as John Warner of Just Visiting writes, is another story. The idea behind peer grading is, apparently, to reinforce the "right answers" by givving students the time and the incentive to reflect on them. For assessments like multiple choice or, to use Warner's example, spelling tests, peer grading would probably work just fine. But for the kind of work which liberal arts institutions encourage, peer grading does students a disservice. The problem isn't the actual scoring process -- students are probably capable of assigning grades -- but not of providing the kind of high quality feedback that really helps learning. It is the knowledge and experience of the professor which produces effective feedback, and relying on peer grading deprives students of this crucial opportunity to engage in dialogue with professors. Response is really for learning about your own work, which makes peer response useful and valuable. But grading is meant to help the person being graded, and that takes a more practiced hand.

For more information and to read Professor Warner's full post, visit his blog on Inside Higher Ed.