The Alternative to Traditional Teacher-Made Tests

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The alternative to traditional teacher-made tests

Khadijeh Majdoddin, University of Tehran at Kish Internations Campus, Iran

Traditionally, students were seen as passive receivers of information in the classroom who were expected to provide samples of their knowledge in teacher-made tests to be evaluated as drop-outs or successful learners. Teachers were both the source of information and the judge who evaluated student success. More recently however, alternative ways of assessment are being tried one of which is peer assessment which is defined as a student’s evaluation of his own success. This paper reviews the literature on peer assessment briefly. It then reiterates the advantages and disadvantages of peer assessment, and concludes that peer assessment is a fruitful technique of classroom evaluation.

Keywords: Peer assessment; self-assessment; alternative evaluation; classroom techniques; education

1. Introduction

Traditional assessment techniques saw the student as a passive receiver of information who should be held accountable for absorbing information in the course, and giving it back to teacher in the test. Recently, however, the student is being ever more increasingly seen as a plausible source of self-assessment. Moreover, students are seen capable enough to assess their peers. Self-assessment requires the individual to assess oneself; peer assessment requires his peers to assess him.

Peer assessment is an assessment method through which the peers of a candidate or student are requested to provide information about his performance. It is considered by many educators and teachers to be a key technique to get students to take more responsibility for their learning. Reinders and Lazaro (2007) claimed that that if conducted appropriately, peer assessment can provide numerous benefits for the learners. Peer-assessment has the advantage of helping students to critically examine the learning in progress. Through this, students understand their own learning better (Ibid). It also helps the students to foster collaboration skills and improve autonomy (Ibid).

Self and peer-assessment are often considered together since they share many advantages. Peer assessment can help self-assessment. When students judge their peers’ work, they can actually have the opportunity to examine their own work as well. Peer and self-assessment help students develop the ability to make judgements (Brown and Knight 1994).

Simply defined, peer assessment is students’ evaluating their peers. Topping (1998) defines peer assessment as a process in which individuals judge the amount, level, value, quality, or success of the outcomes of their peers. Van Den Berg, Admiraal, and Pilot (2006) define peer assessment as a process in which students assess the quality of their fellow students’ work and provide each other with feedback.

2. Literature Review

An extensive body of research on peer assessment exists. This section will briefly review some of the most important looks at peer assessment.

White (2009), in a review of student perceptions of assessment in higher education, claims that students have strong views about assessment methods and that these views affect how they approach learning. White further noticed that, when faced with peer assessment, students are worried about:

• their own awareness of their own deficiencies in subject areas

• not being sure of their own objectivity

• fairness of the peer assessment process

• the influence of such factors as friendship and hostility on their assessment

• the belief that it is not their job but the teachers’ to assess

White (2009) also tried to find out students’ feelings about the peer assessment process in an EPS course, and to show if it helped foster learning in students in such a way as to help them become more effective public speakers. The results of White’s study indicated that a majority of students had a positive...
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