The Block Mode design and development principles require that every Block unit include opportunities for peer feedback and collaboration as part of the suite of feedback approaches designed to promote assessment for learning. This supports VU's Assessment for learning policy.
Implementing peer feedback strategies
Peer feedback should be purposefully designed to develop:
- professional communication skills related to giving and receiving feedback
- active, engaged learning
- assessment literacy including better understanding of assessment criteria
- students’ evaluative judgements through benchmarking their performance against their peers
- insights into a range of peer work and broader perspectives
- the ability to understand and act on information when working with others as required in the workplace
Use the following scaffolded and practical design approaches to implement peer feedback in your Block unit.
1. Define the purpose
Define what you want students to achieve. Possibilities include to:
- gain a deeper understanding of assessment criteria and provide opportunities for feedback
- develop an ability to receive and implement feedback effectively
- build transferrable skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, evaluative judgement, and reflective practice.
2. Establish peer review criteria
The emphasis of the peer review should be on students providing improvement-orientated quality feedback, not on grading peer’s work. Consider what criteria you would use to facilitate peer feedback.
You can incorporate criteria into a rubric, marking guide or checklist. Ensure criteria are as objective as possible and avoid opinion-based criteria (e.g. ‘Excellent introduction’. Instead, develop factual concrete statements (e.g. ‘Introduction includes historical context’).
3. Provide learning activities to build skills
Students need practice in interpreting the criteria and giving feedback. The following are examples of in-class activities.
- Deconstructing a rubric with the class to develop a better understanding of the assessment criteria.
- Reviewing exemplars to better understand levels of performance and judgement making. For example, students are presented with three samples of work of high, medium and low quality and are required to mark these using the provided criteria. When complete, the facilitator can discuss with the class how they marked these pieces of work with the rationale and respond to final questions or queries.
- Students observing each other performing a clinical process and using a checklist or set of criteria to evaluate their partner’s performance. Students then swap roles and repeat the process. To complete the feedback loop, students may then attempt the process again incorporating the feedback they received (see Step 4).
- Students judging their own work against the criteria in order to recognise areas of strength, weaknesses and gaps.
- Students given time to solve a complex problem or respond to a long-answer question. Completed responses are then distributed randomly, along with a marking guide. Learners then have time to read and grade their peers’ work using the marking guide, with an opportunity to ask questions and clarify understanding of the criteria. This activity (and any other peer feedback activity requiring a submission) can be completed anonymously using peer review software such as Feedback Fruits. Alternatively, students could identify their work with e-numbers instead of their name.
- Students producing a draft assignment, receiving feedback from peers and then revising the same assignment. This process develops feedback literacy by placing responsibility for feedback in students’ hands, providing opportunities for making and justifying judgements and closing feedback loops through student action.
4. Provide opportunities for students to take action based on feedback
Build in opportunities for students to evaluate, reflect on and implement feedback according to its relevance and importance.
After receiving peer feedback, students hand in their final assessment with a reflection and justification of how they incorporated or did not use the feedback when amending the final submission.
Self-directed/ collaborative example
Students are provided with a graded sample of student work with feedback (i.e. a completed rubric or constructive statements) and are asked to articulate how they would use this feedback to improve the sample of work. De-personalising this process at the beginning will help students to see the process objectively, and see the benefits without being influenced by emotion.
5. Assess feedback
If appropriate for your unit, peer feedback activities or particular parts of the feedback process can be designed to be a part of the assessment and contribute to students' overall grade.
6. Use technology to facilitate the feedback process
Make use of peer review software tools to automate parts of the process. Buddycheck allows students to evaluate their team members' performance in a group task and Feedback Fruits: Peer Review enables student to provide peer feedback on submitted work. Both Buddycheck and Feedback Fruits are integrated into VU Collaborate.
Find out more
VU Policies and Block Principles
Assessment for learning policy, Section 13 (c).
Chie Adachi et al. (2018) Academics’ perceptions of the benefits and challenges of self and peer assessment in higher education
Chie Adachi et al. (2018) A framework for designing, implementing, communicating and researching peer assessment,
David Carless & David Boud (2018) The development of student feedback literacy: enabling uptake of feedback, https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2018.1463354
Deakin (2019) Responding to feedback.
Deakin (n. d.) Peer and Self-assessment.