THE PEER ASSESSMENT PROCESS: A CASE STUDY OF UNIVERSITY STUDENTS RECEIVING PEER FEEDBACK
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The ability to receive regular peer feedback on learning should, in theory, be valuable to learners. A formative view will be presented in this study in which information is collected and used as feedback for student learning. This differs from summative practices where the purpose is to make judgments about the extent to which learning has taken place. This case study takes place in a first year master’s Occupational Therapy (OT) course where the focus is on the development of communication skills. These skills are developed through interviewing and assessment strategies. This case focuses on the feedback received by students from their peers based on the clinical interviews that were conducted. Peers in this study are members of the same learning team who have been divided into these groups for the purpose of learning together. Students in this course receive both written and oral peer feedback during peer assessment exercises. This feedback is formally reflected on by students as self-assessment. Although, both peer and self-assessments are used for formative purposes in this course, the primary focus of this study is on peer assessment. Six participants were recruited for this study. The data for this inquiry consisted of transcripts from six semi-structured interviews and a focus group as well as written artifacts from the course. The data analysis revealed three core themes related to both the peer assessment process and peer feedback. Motivation for Learning and Awareness of Growth or Development were identified as two key themes relating to student learning. The third theme identified was Factors that Impacted the Learning Experience which had to do with how students felt about having engaged in the peer assessment process. A unique finding regarding the latter theme centered around the time factor required to take on the roles, inherent in peer assessment activities. Students offered insights into the relationship between stress and motivation for learning when taking on peer assessment responsibilities. This study contributes to our understanding of the meaning and consequences of implementing peer assessment into the communication module of the OT course. Insights on the implications of this study to higher education in relation to peer assessment are also explored.