Piloting peerScholar for peer assessment

Watts, Niall (2021) Piloting peerScholar for peer assessment.


This practitioner paper discusses a pilot project on the introduction of peer assessment, using peerScholar, a cloud-based peer assessment service. About twenty lecturers from a range of disciplines in an Irish university are participating in this pilot. The paper draws on the four elements of the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology, namely, perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, facilitating conditions and social influence (Venkatesh, Morris, Davis, & Davis, 2003) to explore the roll-out and support of the peer assessment service by a centralised educational technology unit.

Peer assessment provides a means to give students formative feedback, that is, teaching students how to learn and develop from constructive feedback. This process does not come naturally but can be very beneficial. By comparing their work with that of their peers, students can gain a clear sense of the quality of their own work. Feedback from their peers and reflection on that feedback can help students to learn and develop their own practice. Feeding forward, such feedback enables students to rewrite and improve on their work (Paré, 2019).

peerScholar is developed by academics in the University of Toronto, drawing heavily on their research and professional practice. It provides a three-step process for peer assessment - create, assess and reflect; where students create and upload a piece of work, assess their fellow students’ work and then reflect on the assessment given by their peers. peerScholar provides assessment of both individual and group assignments in text and multimedia formats. Group assignments include assessment of group work by individuals and by other groups as well as team member evaluation, assessing individuals’ contributions to a group project. Self-assessment is also available. Each step in the process can optionally be graded by the peers and by their lecturers.

Paré, D. (2019) The peerScholar Process: Using Formative Peer and Self-Assessment to Enhance and Quantify Critical Thinking Skills, Metacognitive Awareness, and Sense of Community. [Doctoral Dissertation, University of Toronto]

Venkatesh, V., Morris, M. G., Davis, G. B., & Davis, F. D. (2003). User Acceptance of Information Technology: Toward a Unified View. MIS Quarterly, 27(3), 425-478.

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