Principles and Practice of Assessment of Students

Table of Content

Research was conducted on peer and self assessment to enhance understanding and gather additional background information on the subject. The method employed for this research involved primary and secondary sources. Primary research involved personal learning experiences, discussions with my tutor, observation of tutor-led PowerPoint presentations, gathering of handouts, and information exchange with peers. In my teaching field, it is a requirement for learners to engage in peer and self assessment as a part of the curriculum.

Through secondary research, which involved reading my course specification and identifying the criteria required for peer and self-assessment, I had the opportunity to plan my lessons accordingly. In order to support my studies and align with my program of study, I opted to use the book “Teaching Today” by Petty, G (2008) as a reference. The purpose of this paper is to explain why peer and self-assessment are utilized to encourage learner engagement and personal accountability in assessing their own learning.

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In order to support the utilization of these assessment methods, this paper will examine various theorists and provide instances of their connection to theory. Wilson, L (2008) asserts that both peer and self-assessment typically result in reflective practice. Both entail the capacity to evaluate oneself and encompass a critical analysis of the individual learner. Peer assessment relies on learning from one another and is thus an effective means of exchanging ideas and best practices. I concur with Wilson and also believe that peer and self-assessment can serve as a motivating force for learners.

However, it is important to manage this carefully as some learners may use it as an opportunity to demoralize another learner if they don’t get along. In terms of self-assessment, I have chosen to look at some theories. The first theory that this paper will review is the Kolb theory. Kolb (1984) proposed a four-stage cycle of learning, with one of those stages being observation and reflection. The principle of Kolb’s learning cycle is that we all go through these four stages as we acquire knowledge, experience, and skill.

The learning process can be summarized by the Learning Cycle model, which includes four stages. Concrete Experience serves as the foundation for Reflective Observation. This observation is then transformed into Abstract Concepts, which are actively tested through Experimentation. The process begins again with Concrete Experience. To fully utilize this model in teaching and tutoring activities, it is important to ensure that each stage of the process is given equal importance. Tutors may need to actively engage learners by asking questions that promote Reflection, Conceptualization, and ways to test ideas. It is worth noting that the Concrete Experience could take place outside of the tutorial/mentoring session.

Kolb’s learning style is closely connected to Honey and Mumford’s. According to Honey and Mumford (1986 cited in McGill & Beaty 1995 p. 177), they expanded on Kolb’s research and discovered four learning styles:

  • Activist (enjoys the experience itself),
  • Reflector (spends a great deal of time and effort reflecting)
  • Theorist (good at making connections and abstracting ideas from experience)
  • Pragmatist (enjoys the planning stage)
  • There are strengths and weaknesses in each of these styles.

According to Honey and Mumford, thinking about our learning style can enhance learning by leveraging our strengths and minimizing weaknesses to improve the quality of learning. Both Kolb and Honey and Mumford learning cycle heavily emphasize reflection, where these reflections are assimilated into abstract concepts with implications for action. This allows individuals to actively test and experiment with these concepts, leading to the creation of new experiences through self-assessment.

The second theory examined in this paper is that of Donald Schon, who emphasized the importance of ‘reflection’ in comprehending professional practices. Schon focused on the concepts of reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. The former refers to thinking quickly and adaptively, taking into account our experiences, emotions, and current theories in order to make informed decisions. It involves constructing new understandings to guide our actions in the evolving situation.

The practitioner engages in the experience of surprise, puzzlement, or confusion when faced with an uncertain or unique situation. They contemplate the phenomenon at hand and the underlying understandings that have influenced their actions. Through conducting an experiment, they aim to develop a new understanding of the phenomenon and bring about a change in the situation (Schon 1983: 68). According to the website, this process of thinking on one’s feet can be connected to reflection-on-action, which occurs after the encounter. Learners may document their thoughts, discuss them with a tutor, and engage in similar activities.”

Reflecting-on-action allows us to delve into the reasons behind our actions and the dynamics of the group involved. This process helps us generate inquiries and insights about our activities and practices. As a critic of Schon’s theory, I believe that although immediate reflection is advantageous as learners have fresh recollections of their experiences, time constraints may hinder the opportunity for reflection. Additionally, I consider it beneficial to allocate time for conceptualization, where we can draw conclusions and glean lessons from our experiences.

According to me, Schon’s theory does not provide the chance for self-assessment. Numerous theories and models exist that explain the importance of reflection and the process of self-assessment. For this paper, my research has led me to support David Bould’s view. In 1995, Bould established a strong connection between self-assessment and reflection, asserting that learning only happens when both processes occur. To truly learn, one must have the desire to analyze their performance and invest time in improvement. Self-assessment offers the benefits of encouraging learner engagement and personal autonomy.

Encouraging learners to assess their own work before submitting it can be beneficial. Some students prefer to mark their own work rather than have a peer or teacher do it. This process can help develop understanding and confidence. One effective method is using a formative test. According to Petty (2008), students take a test and then self-assess their answers. They are provided with a list of topics and subtopics covered in the test and are instructed to use the traffic light method, marking each topic as green (understood), red (not understood), or amber (uncertain).

The teacher reviews the self assessments and if there are many red marks, the topic is revisited. Learners should clearly state their objectives and what they need to do to address any gaps. However, a limitation is that learners may have an inaccurate perception of their progress. Some learners require assistance in applying what they have learned. According to behaviourist theory, providing feedback, whether positive or negative, can influence student behavior. Skinner (1974) held the belief that if positive reinforcement follows, learners will repeat desired behaviors.

During a session with my students, I frequently give them the opportunity to evaluate each other’s work. The students are consistently candid and express their thoughts and emotions without reservation. This serves as a powerful motivation for students to strive harder or maintain that specific behavior, as they receive praise and can enhance self-improvement. Another benefit of receiving feedback from peers is that it is usually tailored to the learners’ level and does not contain any specialized terms. Peer assessment entails evaluating someone else’s work. Petty (2008) proposes that one advantage of this approach is its applicability to Unit 3.

Principles and practice of assessment by Kerryann Kelly 1b states that providing model answers or worked solutions for students to study during the marking process allows them to see alternative ways of answering questions and makes the goals clearer. I agree with Petty that this is a very effective way for students to learn. Peer assessment is also advantageous as it enables learners to reflect on their own learning. If a learner engages in peer assessment and realizes they have made a mistake themselves, it is a helpful way for them to identify and reflect on their own work. Many students find this method enjoyable.

Encouraging constructive support from peers and engaging in discussions are effective methods for generating ideas and empowering learners. However, when working with mainstream students, it is important to consider that they may not always provide honest assessments of their peers due to fear of upsetting them or personal bias. This can lead to reliability and validity issues in student assessments. To address this, clear criteria and learning objectives should be provided to learners.

In summary, this article has provided illustrations of how peer and self-assessment can be applied effectively. Both approaches contribute to the development of reflective practice and involve evaluating oneself through a critical analysis of one’s learning.


  1. Unit 3 Principles and practice of assessment Kerryann Kelly 1b Black and William assessment for learning (1998), Available from www. teachingexpertise. com [Accessed 03 June 2010]
  2. Gravells, A (2009) Principles and practice of assessment in the lifelong learning sector, Learning Matters Kolbs learning style (1984), Available from www. usinessballs. com [Acessed 03 June 2010]
  3. Nicol D (2004), Available from http://www. heacademy. ac. uk/assessment/ASS051D_SENLEF_model. doc [Accessed 04 June 2010] Petty, G. (2004) (3RD Edn)
  4. Teaching Today. Nelson Thornes Petty, G. (2008) (3RD Edn) Teaching Today. Nelson Thornes Wiggins, (1997), Available from http://www. heacademy. ac. uk/assessment/ASS051D_SENLEF_model. doc [Accessed 04 June 2010]
  5. Wilson, L (2008) Practical Teaching A Guide to PTTLS & CTTLS: Melody Dawes (publishers) Ltd

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