How can peer assessment be used in ways which enhance the quality of younger children’s learning in primary schools?
thesisposted on 09.09.2016, 10:41 by Stuart Ian Boon
Peer assessment actively engages peers in the formative assessment and evaluation of work produced by a peer. This thesis explores how social processes, such as classroom talk, influence the quality of children’s learning in more interactive contexts of PA. This focus is needed since children often find PA challenging as they may not have the interpersonal skills to collaborate effectively leading them to use talk ineffectively as a tool for learning. This research was interventionist and children in the year three and four classes I taught received Thinking Together lessons as a strategy to enhance the quality of their talk in contexts of peer assessment. Methods used to examine the impact of the talk intervention, and to gain greater insights into the role that the social context plays in peer assessment, included transcribed digital audio recordings, open ended observations, semi-structured interviews, mind maps and children’s work. Qualitative data were analysed using thematic coding analysis whilst data in transcripts were quantitatively analysed to calculate the frequency of words and phrases associated with exploratory talk before and after the intervention. Findings suggest that children’s characteristics influence the way they communicate in contexts of PA and some of the most challenging learners seemed to benefit most from the talk intervention in terms of its influence on their ability to collaborate, hypothesise and reason throughout the peer assessment tasks. The findings also draw attention to previously under-researched PA social processes such as discussion, negotiation and peer questioning that lead to outcomes for learners such as self assessment. The main conclusions drawn are that more interactive kinds of peer assessment might be viewed as a differentiated and discursive practice where teachers consider the various needs of learners, based on their individual characteristics, and provide appropriate support so they are able to collaborate and use language for mediating effective PA practice.