How can I use peer marking?

How does it align with the module learning outcomes? Does it assess or practice skills and knowledge that are key to the discipline? 

As with peer evaluation, undertaking peer marking can help students engage deeply with outcomes, assuming these are operationalised in the marking criteria. Any module with a learning outcome involving community and collaboration should include some element of peer or group work. Skills of analytical and evaluative thinking can be facilitated by peer marking. Authenticity is increased as this is a skill in many workplaces and research environments.


Will it be formative or summative? If summative, will I give opportunities for practice? How? When will it occur in the term/module? What will the weighting be

Peer marking can be used formatively or summatively. Students are more likely to be engaged with it if it will contribute to their final grade but students MUST have practice with it BEFORE using it as a summative assessment activity.

According to Falchikov and Goldfinch (2000)Kearney et al (2017) and Vogel (2018), with thorough preparation and practice, the validity of student assessments is similar to that of staff in a wide range of subject areas. However, if the peer marking forms part of summative assessment, it is safer to combine the peer marks with teacher marks and weight the peer marks quite low in order to counter potential problems with high or low grading.

Peer marking is best introduced at the beginning of a course of study, starting with a small piece of work, or a section of a larger piece of work.


What criteria will I use? How will I give feedback?

You should ensure that students understand and have had practice in applying standard criteria See Exemplars

Students can also be encouraged to negotiate their own criteria beforehand. They can either use this criteria to give feedback or match their definitions of good and poor work to the criteria you use on the module.

Peer-marking relies on student judgment and engagement as well as understanding to be successful. If the peer mark contributes towards students’ grades or if you are assessing their accuracy in giving grades as part of their assessment, you should also provide some feedback on their ability to apply the criteria.


How do I set up peer marking?

Consider how you will allocate pairings or groupings. Moodle Workshop allows you to do this randomly or to assign peers yourself based on differentiation of student strengths.

Consider timings. Building in a time buffer between the submission deadline and marking will accommodate late submissions and give students a breather, but too long an intervening time may interfere with students’ abilities to give and make use of feedback.

You should try to ensure blind marking, as with double marking procedures, so the students’ grades do not influence your own.

How can I address potential challenges? 

Do I need to make any modifications for accessibility/inclusivity? Can I build these into the design?

Using KEATS (Moodle Workshop) to allocate the work will make the process widely accessible and allows for anonymity. Make peer-marking anonymous, especially in the early stages when students are inexperienced at giving constructive feedback, can help relieve the social anxieties which leads students towards platitudes or collusion.

Make sure students know if their allocated peer has an MC or extension, and provide both students extra time to complete the peer marking.

Beforehand, build confidence in the validity of the process by giving students the opportunity to carry out guided marking of exemplars develops and calibrate students’ judgement, boosting their collective confidence in the process.

Scaffolding – question prompts related to the marking criteria will help peer markers focus their judgments as well as promoting trust in the process. Producing these prompts as a collaborative exercise prior to the practice opportunities (see below) will help students internalise the marking criteria.

Encourage students to focus on content and higher level aspects of performance rather than language features. This can be discouraging for students with dyslexia or for students whose first language is not English.

Do I need to make any modifications for large cohort sizes?

Extra time should be allowed for work to be submitted in order to allow time for peer marking.

Digital technology saves clerical time allocating and sorting peer groups. If you are using automated marking for exams, peer grades can easily be correlated. This is a much more time consuming process with longer essays as students have to have confidence in the marking process.

How will I introduce it to the students?

Peer marking tends to be poorly received if students have the impression that it is a substitute for assessor marking. Instead emphasise the perspectives that peers can uniquely bring to the assessment.

Ensure that weighting for peer-marking are low enough not to induce anxiety about bias, collusion etc.