Eurasian Journal of Educational Research

Print ISSN: 1302-597X & e-ISSN: 2528-8911
Kathy HARRISON, Joe O'HARA, Gerry McNAMARA
Re-Thinking Assessment: Self- and Peer-Assessment as Drivers of Self-Direction in Learning
10.14689/ejer.2015.60.5

Problem Statement: This paper focuses on assessment in Irish education, which, despite best intentions, shepherds students through the process to an extent that the individual is prone to undervalue her/his ability to trust in the self as a rational, self-thinking individual.  In Ireland’s assessment system lies the paradox whereby from childhood the learner develops the habit of depending on ‘authority’ (teacher/examiner) to assess their work, with the expectation that the learner will graduate a self-reliant, achieving person. 

Purpose: This paper shows how a step away from the traditional form of assessment, beginning at elementary school, can help redress this incongruity.  Self- and peer-assessment, in a study with 523 students and their teachers, is shown to be more congruent with developing skills, attitudes and behaviour necessary to help students graduate as self-reliant and self-directed individuals. 

Methods: These were from the post‑positivist / phenomenological / interpretive family. The study used Action Research from the emancipatory paradigm.  Concerned with experience, phenomenological analysis emerged from the interpretive paradigm.  Throughout, the quantitative element added a positivist dimension which was a constant aspect, strengthening the research.  In accordance with phenomenological philosophy, attention was paid to minority viewpoints, ensuring the study was inclusive and culturally sensitive.

Results and Findings: A sociological phenomenon, learning applies to all, and any theory of learning must embrace all learners, in accordance with social justice.  During self- and peer-assessment, students developed skills as critical, creative thinkers, effective communicators, collaborative team workers, becoming more personally productive and effective.  Their self-awareness and self-reflection increased significantly.  All of these aspects are essential components of self-direction.

Conclusions and Recommendations: Self- and peer-assessment, a culturally responsive student-teacher partnership approach, serves all ages in any learning context.  It is a step toward redressing the balance from dependence on the teacher/examiner to self-direction.  Self- and peer-assessment is a sustainable lifelong learning methodology and needs implementing urgently at all levels of the curriculum.  This will lead to a reconstruction of boundaries as learners take more control of their assessment and learning.  The focus is on ‘self’, learning control and self-direction through the practice of assessing own and peer performance.  Ultimately, this creative form of assessment influences, self, community and greater society.

Key Words: Self-assessment, peer-assessment, self-reliance, self-direction, culturally responsive.

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2015 Issuse 60

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