Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centre for Research on Teaching and Training
In the present study, we focus on peer assessment as a means to use assessment as a support for learning. In our theoretical framework, we first explain how assessment in general influences student learning by introducing pre-, true-, and post-assessment-effects. The importance of these effects urges for an expansion of the traditional notice of ‘good assessment’. It is now believed that assessment should – in addition – be designed to be a ‘powerful assessment’ that supports learning. However, there is no unilateral influence of assessment on students. Students are active players in the field too, and their perceptions and characteristics interact with assessment. Secondly, starting from this point of view we formulate an answer to the question “How should assessment be designed or engineered to be a tool for learning?”, by making use of Gibbs’ and Simpson’s (2004) ‘conditions under which assessment can support learning’. Finally, peer assessment is defined and its expected potential to create these conditions is described.
This potential of peer assessment will be the subject of the empirical part of the study. We will examine whether peer assessment is able to fulfil the expectations. In addition, we will try to explain why peer assessment exerts certain influences on student learning. The main questions that will be answered are: Can peer assessment make students learn deeper (through pre-, true-, and post-assessment-effects)? Can peer assessment create better learning outcomes (through pre-, true-, and post-assessment-effects)? How does peer assessment interact with student characteristics and student perceptions (as components of the teaching-learning-system)? Which feature of peer assessment (giving or receiving peer feedback) is crucial for its role as a tool for learning?
These questions are made operational through the translation into research questions. By means of four empirical studies, an answer to these questions will be sought. Results of a pilot study are already reported here. For the three future studies we will describe design, research questions and instruments. We plan to conduct two small scale studies combining quantitative with qualitative research methods, and one larger mainly quantitative study. Finally, a time schedule is provided for these studies.