The act of grading someone else's paper [a.k.a., student peer grading, peer assessment; peer evaluation; self-regulated learning] is a cooperative learning technique that refers to activities conducted either inside or outside of the classroom whereby students review, evaluate, and, in some cases, actually recommend grades on the quality of their peer's work. Peer grading is usually guided by a rubric developed by the instructor. A rubric is a performance-based assessment that uses specific criteria as a basis for evaluation. An effective rubric makes grading more clear, consistent, and equitable.
Newton, Fred B. and Steven C. Ender. Students Helping Students: A Guide for Peer Educators on College Campuses. 2nd edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010.
Professors assign students to grade the work of their classmates based on findings in educational research that suggests the act of grading someone else's paper increases positive learning outcomes for students. Professors use peer grading as a way for students to practice recognizing quality research, with the hope that this will carry over to their own work, and as an aid to improving group performance or determining individual effort on team projects. Grading someone else's paper can also enhance learning outcomes by empowering students to take ownership over the selection of criteria used to evaluate the work of peers [the rubric]. Finally, professors may assign peer grading as a way to engage students in the act of seeing themselves as members of a community of researchers.
Other potential benefits include:
Boud, David, Ruth Chen, and Jane Sampson. "Peer Learning and Assessment." Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 24 (1999): 413-426; Dochy, Filip et al. "The Use of Self-, Peer, and Co-Assessment in Higher Education: A Review." Studies in Higher Education 24 (1999): 331-350; Falchikov, Nancy. Improving Assessment through Student Involvement: Practical Solutions for Aiding Learning in Higher and Further Education. New York: Routledge/Falmer, 2005; Ryan, Mary Elizabeth, editor. Teaching Reflective Learning in Higher Education: A Systematic Approach using Pedagogic Patterns. New York: Springer, 2014; Sadler, Philip M. and Eddie Good. "The Impact of Self- and Peer-Grading on Student Learning." Educational Assessment 11 (2006): 1-31;Topping, Keith J. “Peer Assessment.” Theory Into Practice 48 (2009): 20-27; Rachael Hains-Wesson. Peer and Self Assessment. Deakin Learning Futures, Deakin University, Australia.
I. Best Practices
Best practices in peer assessment vary depending on the type of assignment or project you are evaluating and the type of course you are taking. A quality experience also depends on having a clear and accurate rubric that effectively presents the proper criteria and standards for the assessment. The process can be intimidating, but know that everyone probably feels the same way you do when first informed you will be evaluating the work of others--cautious and uncomfortable!
Given this, the following questions should be answered by your professor before beginning:
II. Things to Consider
When informed that you will be assessing the work of others, consider the following:
III. General Evaluative Elements of a Rubric
In the social and behavioral sciences, the elements of a rubric used to evaluate a writing assignment depend on the content and purpose of that assignment. However, in general, these are the areas of assessment that your professor may ask you to examine or that you may want to consider if you are asked to help develop the rubric. They are often presented in print or online as a grid with statements about what constitutes an effective or ineffective element of the writing.
Grammar and Usage
The writing is free of misspellings and words are capitalized correctly. There is proper verb tense agreement. The sentences are punctuated correctly and there are no sentence fragments or run-on sentences. The paper is neat, legible, and presented in an appropriate format.
Focus and Organization
The paper is structured logically. The research problem is clearly articulated and ideas or events are presented in an effective order. The narrative flow possesses unity and coherence and it is appropriately developed by means of description, example, illustration, or definition that helps you understand the scope of what is being investigated.
Elaboration and Style
The introduction engages your attention. Descriptions of ideas, concepts, events, and people are clearly related to the research problem. The literature cited supports the study. Where appropriate, descriptions of cause and effect outcomes, compare and contrast, and classification and division of findings are effectively presented. Arguments, recommendations, or lessons learned are supported by evidence. Sources are properly cited.
Hodgsona, Yvonne, Robyn Benson, and Charlotte Brack. “Student Conceptions of Peer-Assisted Learning.” Journal of Further and Higher Education 39 (2015): 579-597; Getting Feedback. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Gueldenzoph, Lisa E. and Gary L. May. “Collaborative Peer Evaluation: Best Practices for Group Member Assessments.” Business and Professional Communication Quarterly 65 (March 2002): 9-20; Lladó, Anna Planas et al. “Student Perceptions of Peer Assessment: An Interdisciplinary Study.” Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 39 (2014): 592-610; Froyd, Jeffrey. Peer Assessment and Peer Evaluation. The Foundation Coalition; Newton, Fred B. and Steven C. Ender. Students Helping Students: A Guide for Peer Educators on College Campuses. 2nd edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010; Liu, Ngar-Fun and David Carless. “Peer Feedback: The Learning Element of Peer Assessment.” Teaching in Higher Education 11 (2006): 279-290; Peer Review. Psychology Writing Center. Department of Psychology. University of Washington; Revision: Peer Editing--Serving As a Reader. The Reading/Writing Center. Hunter College; Peer Review. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Suñola, Joan Josep et al. “Peer and Self-Assessment Applied to Oral Presentations from a Multidisciplinary Perspective.” Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 41 (2016): 622-637; Writer's Choice: Grammar and Composition. Writing Assessment and Evaluation Rubrics. New York: Glencoe-McGraw-Hill, n.d.