Peer assessment and assessment issues

Overview of peer assessment

  • Orsmond, P. (2011). Self- and Peer- Assessment; Guidance on Practice in the Biosciences, 2nd Edition Ed: Stephen Maw, (Leeds, The Higher Education Academy Centre for Biosciences).

Download the first edition free at:

This is a very readable guide, with introductory chapters that cover assessment practices in higher education, how students learn, guidance for implementing self-and peer-assessment and case studies from the Biosciences.

  • Orsmond, P and Merry, S (in press) The importance of self-assessment in students’ use of tutors’ feedback: A qualitative study of high and non-high achieving biology undergraduates, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, tba iFirst

Compares how high and non-higher achieving students use feedback and concludes that high achievers self-assess effectively and non-high achievers need to be externally regulated.

  • Falchikov, N.  2005 Improving Assessment through Student Involvement. Abingdon, Oxford, Routledge Falmer

Useful overview of peer assessment from an expert in the field. Chapters 6-9 may be the most useful; chapter 6 considers problems with peer assessment and suggests solutions, chapter 7 considers problems student have in judging the quality of their work.

Peer feedback

  • Cartney. P. (2010). 'Exploring the use of peer assessment as a vehicle for closing the gap between feedback given and feedback used' in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35:5, 551-564.

A case study of students’ use of feedback, exploring the emotional aspect of peer assessment.

Argues against using students as ‘surrogate markers’ and in favour of helping students to develop critical judgments through composing peer feedback.

  • Wen, M.L. and Tsai, C-C. (2008). 'Online peer assessment in an in-service science and mathematics teacher education course'. Teaching in Higher Education. 13, no.1, 55-67.

This study tracked students through several rounds of peer assessment, claiming that students’ comments became increasingly sophisticated with practice.

Collaborative Assessment

  • McConnell, D.  (2002). The Experience of Collaborative Assessment in e-Learning' in  Studies in Continuing Education, Vol. 24, No. 1, 73-92

An account and evaluation of students' experiences of collaborative assessment on an online MEd. McConnell discusses the value of involving students in making judgements about their own and other's work.

Issues in Assessment

Marker Reliability

  • Bloxham, S. (2009). 'Marking and moderation in the UK: false assumptions and wasted resources', Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 34:2,209 — 220

Bloxham reviews current studies on marking reliability, arguing that tutor marking is ‘inherently frail' and questions whether we should be inducting students into ‘the subjective nature of marking'.

Explicit assessment criteria

  • Sadler, D.R. (2008). 'Transforming holistic assessment and grading into a vehicle for complex learning'. In Assessment learning and judgement in higher education, ed. G. Joughin, 45–63. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

Contains a very useful critique of the limitations of explicit assessment criteria.


  • Price, Margaret , Handley, Karen , Millar, Jill and O'Donovan, Berry (2010). 'Feedback : all that effort, but what is the effect?', Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35: 3, 277 — 289

Good discussion on why students find tutor feedback difficult to interpret.

  • Sadler, D. R. (2010). 'Beyond feedback: Developing student capability in complex appraisal' in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 35: 5, 535 - 550.

Sadler argues that tutor feedback is essentially transmissive, one-way communication.

  • Nicol, D. (2010). 'From monologue to dialogue: improving written feedback processes in mass higher education' in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35, no.5: 501-517.

An argument for introducing more dialogic opportunities around assessment with many practical examples of how this has been tried.

  • Nicol, D. J. and Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006) in 'Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice', Studies in Higher Education, 31: 2, 199 — 218

A key argument is that students are already assessing their own work and generating their own feedback, and that higher education should build on this.

  • Carless, D. (2006). 'Differing perceptions in the feedback process', Studies in Higher Education, 31: 2, 219 — 233

Examines the notion of written feedback on assignments and argues that this feedback process is more complex than is sometimes acknowledged.

Tacit Knowing

  • Polanyi, M. (1962). Personal Knowledge. London, Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Seminal text on ‘tacit knowing’.

Click to download a PDF copy of this biobliography on assessment.

Documents downloadable from this page: