Peer Assessment Vs Instructor Assessment

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    Nadia Ahouari_Idri

    In the field of applied linguistics, especially in the areas of EFL/ ESL, not much emphasis has been made on peer- and instructor-assessment in classrooms. Various studies in the 1980s focused on the advantages of peer review in L1 and expected similar advantages could be found in L2 (Davies & Omeberg, 1987; Zamel, 1987). Chaudron (1984) insisted that learners could develop a sense of a wider audience through peer review and enhance their language proficiency both in L1 and L2. However, in the 1990’s, studies on peer review were focused more on possible disadvantages. Those studies pointed out that there were differences between L1 and L2, and claimed that a lack of language proficiency in L2 affects peer review. Learners cannot review their peers’ performance appropriately because of their low proficiency, which leads them not to trust their peers’ reviews ( Nelson & Carson, 1998).
    Also learners often focus on finding mechanical mistakes in their peers’ performance and cannot concentrate on evaluating organization or content (Seguputa, 1998). Further, learners cultural backgrounds affect how they perceive peer feedback. Nelson and Carson (1998) and Segupta (1998), for example, pointed out that Chinese students had a strong preference for teacher feedback. Nelson and Carson claims that the power distance between teachers and students leads learners to have a specific preference. Fujita (2002) found that Japanese students also prefer teachers’ feedback. Since studies have shown both positive and negative evaluations of peer review, researchers have suggested using both peer and teacher feedback in the classroom (Saito & Fujita, 2000; Muncie, 2000). They pointed out that having multiple types of feedback from their peers would help learners to have wider viewpoints. Nakamura (2002) also investigated the reliability of peer assessment in classrooms and concluded that peer assessment motivated students to improve their presentations. Saito (2003) examined the reliability of the assessment and reported that peer assessment helps students to improve their presentations.
    Hence, we want the discussion to answer the question in the light of what has been introduced:
    Q. Do assessments of students correlate more closely and positively with those of the instructor as their English proficiency increase ?

    Amber Yuan

    This is a very interesting topic actually I am working on. I think the main issue is the validity and reliabily of peer-,and self-assessment in the EFL classroom. However, whether peer-,self-assessment could be introduced into the formal assessment system (as alternative assessment) is uncertain. You used the term ‘correlate’, which may indicate the methodology of the study–correlation research, however, I was thinking about the limitations of the method. A true sore may not reflect a whole picture of students’ rating. As Fujita and Saito (2004) suggested Multfacetd Rasch Measurement could be used, however, it is too complicated for me who do most of the quantatative work by SPSS. So I am quite stuck in the research method part.

    Nadia Ahouari_Idri

    Dear Amber:
    The topic is of quite interest. However, it seems still far from practical considerations. When considering the validity and reliability, we think of the assessment as a quantitative method. Yet, assessment is more qualitative and should be as such in EFL contexts. Only, in case of providing scores to the learners that measurement appears as to quantify this assessment. We are still thinking of assessment, whether self-, peer- or instructor in terms of testing. It’s not the case. It’s formative and it’s role is to diagnose the learners’ progress and this is not always revealed through scores. Whe you talked about the methodology, I think more or less in terms of the experimental design and back it up with with a quantitative method. Add to this that one of the limitations of these sorts ofassessment is their acceptability. i ean here, that they are also culturally bound. that’s why, it’s important to think of the sample at hand and the participants’ attitudes towards it.
    I like the discussion and hope that others will contribute.
    Yours nadia

    Amber Yuan

    Dear Nadia,
    You are right. The characteristics of peer-, and self-assessment are these advantages for learning. However, I am also concerning its potential disadvantages, for example, the backwash of poor reliability and validity. Students may not always give reasonable marks, however, we cannot deny the fact that they can still learn during the whole marking procedure. But how can we then deal with its consequential validity? What if a biased or even wrong comment is made; the student who receives it may be negatively influenced. Then it will do more harm than good. In addition, you raised a very interesting point of the cultural influence. Students and maybe teachers’ attitudes are definitely important.
    BTW, nadia, could you also have a look at my post on ‘methods Q&A’, I have a question there about the style of my research on peer-,self-assessment. I was wondering if you could help. Many thanks.

    All the best


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