PEER RANKING: A NEW APPROACH IN FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT
One of the main goals of the new European Higher Education Area context is to accompany students in their learning process as they see their progress when building their knowledge. This is what is called formative assessment. Formative assessment is known as any assessment that provides feedback to students throughout the course and helps them improve their learning, regardless of it being graded or not. Thus students reinforce their own learning as a result of the results of their assessments.
However, the reality we now face in classrooms is that assessment systems are not always formative assessments. Therefore, they do not always guarantee a higher level of learning by students. Although there are now more assessment acts than before the current educational reform, they do not always offer associated higher motivation, greater participation or a higher level of learning outcomes achieved by.
Of all the different assessment systems, it has been shown that peer assessment increases students’ motivation because they feel they actively participate in the process, and not only in learning, but also in assessing. Students also learn to be more critical, and they can also compare the results of the assessments they make with those made by peers or teachers. Thus it can be stated that peer assessment emphasises skills, encourages participation, focuses on learning, promotes excellence, provides more feedback, encourages attendance, and teaches students responsibility and critical thinking.
Of all existing peer assessment methods, here we focus on 'Peer Ranking' as an evaluation methodology for peer comparisons. It is a specific type of assessment that works in the order from the best to the worst work. This order is established by evaluators (students) who compare works in pairs according to certain preset factors. Hence through competitiveness among students, we intend to improve the results of student learning, participation and motivation. We chose ‘Peer Ranking’ by comparing the results in pairs, instead of asking students to set a grade, in order to simplify students’ assessing work, and to facilitate objectivity and generalisable results.
Therefore, with this paper we defined the design factors to develop a Peer Ranking tool that ensures quick and effective assessments. We aimed to establish the number of comparisons to be made by each student to ensure reliable results, and also reliable criteria to choose each pair of comparisons. Throughout the process, comparisons will be made between works, not just randomly paired ones, but also between works paired among the best rated ones with those rated the worst, or between equivalent jobs, to build the final ranking.
As a result, the aggregated results of all the comparisons should allow the best to worst works to be defined and sorted, and the resulting order with the assessments made by each student to be compared. This system will speed up not only the peer review process, but also the subsequent management of the results to search for a more formative assessment.
With the resulting tool, a final ranking of all the students based on their results can be identified in a simple flexible way by comparing in pairs. This ranking can be most useful not only for the student’s further qualification (both assessed and assessor), but also as a tool of student participation and motivation.