About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 5124-5135
Publication year: 2009
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain


N. Clarke, P.S. Dowland

University of Plymouth (UNITED KINGDOM)
Assessment forms a key component of module and course design. With students’ learning increasingly driven by the assessments, it is imperative to ensure that assessment is aligned with the intended learning outcomes (Biggs, 1999). There are a wide variety of assessment methods, with the use of many being dependent upon the scenario in which the assessment approach needs to be used (EDaLT, 2005). One deficiency with the majority of assessment approaches is the lack of critical examination of submitted assignments by the students, with many students simply taking a note of the mark. In addition, the level of feedback provided to the student by the assessor can vary in both content and relevance, with feedback often being short, generic and impersonal (Brennan & Williams, 2004).

Peer assessment is one method that assists in ensuring the process of assessment does not merely finish at the submission stage, and assists in providing to the student a greater awareness and understanding of the assignment problem. By having students read and mark their peers’ work, students are not only able to gain an appreciation of the level and content others are submitting in relation to their own, but more importantly it will help to fill the gaps in their knowledge and understanding. Compared to other more traditional forms of assessment, peer review is often regarded as an innovative assessment method which offers a number of advantages over prior approaches, such as (Mowl, 1996; Brown et al., 1994; Race, 1998; James et al., 2006):

• Improving motivation by giving a sense of ownership to the assessment process
• Encouraging responsibility for their own learning
• Encouraging deep rather than surface learning
• Practising the transferable skills needed for life-long learning
• Treating assessment as part of the learning process, and continuing to learn beyond the point of submission

Although, peer assessment has been around and in practice for some time, its application as an online resource is somewhat newer. A review of online peer assessment systems at the conception of this project found few examples, with the majority being fairly bespoke implementations (Ho, 2002; Parsons, 2003). It was therefore necessary to design the system in-house. The current system has been operation for 3 years and is servicing 33 modules and 1700 students in the Faculty of Technology. The system has specifically been designed to operate in two peer assessment modes:

1. Between (inter) group peer assessment. An individual assesses another individual/group assignment against the pre-defined assessment criteria.
2. Within (intra) group peer assessment. An individual assesses the contribution of other group members within their own group. This assessment provides a weighting measure to ensure all members of the group receive a proportion of the marks that is felt appropriate by the group.

This paper will introduce the OPAS system and present a critical evaluation of the system by end-users. Students undertaking peer assessment completed a series of three questionnaires during the process providing valuable insights and feedback on the application.
author = {Clarke, N. and Dowland, P.S.},
series = {2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2009 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-613-2953-3},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {16-18 November, 2009},
year = {2009},
pages = {5124-5135}}
AU - N. Clarke AU - P.S. Dowland
SN - 978-84-613-2953-3/2340-1095
PY - 2009
Y1 - 16-18 November, 2009
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2009 Proceedings
SP - 5124
EP - 5135
ER -
N. Clarke, P.S. Dowland (2009) A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF OPAS (ONLINE PEER ASSESSMENT SYSTEM), ICERI2009 Proceedings, pp. 5124-5135.