A Critical Analysis of an Online Peer Assessment Activity in a Year 4 Module in the School of Science GMIT

McGrath, Mary (2014) A Critical Analysis of an Online Peer Assessment Activity in a Year 4 Module in the School of Science GMIT. In: The 15th Educational Technology Conference of the Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA). May 29th and 30th, UCD, Dublin, Ireland.


Peer Assessment (PA) is seen as a way of introducing learners to the work of others and also to help them evaluate the worth of this work. In PA the student learns the skills to be able to measure the worth, level and value of work submitted by a class mate (Topping, 1998, 2009). The use of PA is increasing in higher education. PA is reported to increase interactions between students and to increase interactions with teaching staff, if executed correctly (Wen and Tsai, 2006). In this research, a Moodle-based PA activity was critically analysed to evaluate its effectiveness. Thirteen Year 4 students on the B.Sc.(Hons) Medical Science programme submitted a laboratory report via the Moodle VLS platform. Using the 'workshop activity' function in Moodle each student was assigned two anonymous assignments to review and to mark, following guidelines. The lecturer independently assigned a mark to each assignment. The marks assigned were reviewed. Student's perception and experiences of the peer assessment process was subsequently examined through the use of an online questionnaire (via the 'feedback activity' function in Moodle) and a focus group discussion. Modest correlation was seen between mean of the student's marks and that of the lecturer. The difference between the marks was demonstrated not to be statistically significant. The focus group discussion and survey findings demonstrated engagement with the evaluation of others' work. All students reported that this activity was a positive experience, that said, only one third of students would be happy to have marks assigned by a peer as a summative assessment; almost all of this cohort of students would be happy for this to be a formative assessment. The majority of those surveyed recommended the use of PA in other years of the programme. It is acknowledged that the small sample size was a limitation of this case study analysis, however, this bounded case study clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of PA in encouraging student engagement.

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