Peer Assessment that Improves Performance in Groups

Peer assessment in groups has been shown to effectively address a number of group process issues, but only if the peer assessment has a formative component. Many studies have shown that if peer assessment is used at the end of a group project, group members will punish their dysfunctional members—those who didn’t do work, didn’t turn work in on time, didn’t come to meetings, and didn’t do quality work—but they won’t confront those group members when they commit those dysfunctional behaviors. After-the-fact peer assessment gives the teacher input on who did and didn’t contribute in the group, but it doesn’t change what happened in that group or help students learn how to confront group member problems when they emerge.
Faculty members Anson and Goodman describe an online peer assessment system they developed that can be administered efficiently, provides quality feedback, and fosters effective team processes. Details for setting up and using the system are laid out in the article. Group members respond to four questions sets, including open and closed questions about the performance of each individual group member, and open and closed questions about how the group is functioning. Group members give each other feedback that is task focused—it’s about how the group member is performing tasks, not feedback about personal characteristics. The group member questions include these, among others: attends team meetings, communicates and responds promptly to team members, meets deadlines and completes assigned work, and listens …