June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
FPD VI: Presenting "All the Best" of the First-Year Programs Division
22.1146.1 - 22.1146.11
Peer marking – does it really improve student learning?The paper reports on an initiative in the first-year engineering course ELECTENG 101,Electrical and Digital Systems, at the University of ________. This paper is compulsory forall 600-plus first-year students. Typically two thirds of these students subsequently choose anon-electrical engineering discipline at the end of year one. Many may have no particularinterest in electrical engineering, and may even have not studied the relevant aspects ofphysics at high school. ELECTENG 101 has been seen as a difficult, „gatekeeper‟ course.Tutorial attendance declines through the semester, this effect being more pronounced inrecent years. In 2007 and 2008, some tutorial streams were, in the latter part of the semester,attended by only 10% to 20% of enrolled students.The motivating power of assessment has been well-established by research, with formativeassessment singled out for special mention as a way to improve student learning. Evidenceexists in the literature that the learning improvements delivered by formative assessmentpersist even when students, rather than the instructor, carry out the assessment. In an effort toboost tutorial attendance and engagement, and student achievement, peer-markedassignments were set in ELECTENG 101.This paper describes an investigation which addresses the research question: “To what extentwould peer-marked assignments improve student learning in the first-year electricalengineering course?” The research methodology followed is outlined first, including adescription of the method used to implement peer marking. We then report on the evidencefor success as measured both by performance in ELECTENG 101 assessments andperformance in a diagnostic test in a subsequent year-two course, and student, tutor and staffsurveys. We conclude by addressing possible confounding issues and weaknesses in ourmethodology.Students received a small number of marks for doing an assignment, and marking another‟s.Peer marking took place under the guidance of a staff tutor. The staff tutor went through theassignment in detail, explaining the correct solution to each of the questions and indicatingwhere marks could be gained and lost. Attendance at tutorial sessions improved verysignificantly during peer-marked sessions. Students were required to interact with the tutorialmaterial both from the perspective of one solving the problem, and also from the perspectiveof a marker.Survey results indicated that the great majority of students considered peer-marking hadmade them think more deeply about the material and also about how a solution iscommunicated. Examination performance improved over earlier years, with a markedlylower failure rate: 5.4% in 2009 when peer-marking was used, versus 10.4% in 2008 when itwas not. A diagnostic test of circuit theory concepts (administered to a subset of the Year 1cohort in the following year) showed such concepts were retained better. In the year prior tointroduction of peer marking, the mean result of the diagnostic test was 8.42 out of 20 and thepass rate was 47%. A year later the cohort involved in peer marking, sitting the samediagnostic test, achieved a greatly improved mean at 11.46 out of 20, with 52% passing thetest.
Smaill, C., & Rowe, G., & Carter, L. J. (2011, June), Peer Marking: Does it Really Improve Student Learning? Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18717
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