Peer assessment can be incredibly beneficial when done well – and potentially harmful when implemented poorly. Make sure you do it the right way.

From a young age, children are taught to respect and gain knowledge from their teachers, but we often forget how much students can (and do) learn from each other. In every classroom, students can benefit from the positive, helpful critiques offered during peer assessment. Use the following suggestions to build an environment of in-class constructive criticism through peer assessment.

1. Use Positive, I-focused Critiques

peer assessmentThe key to implementing successful peer assessment in the classroom is showing kids how to use positive language when providing feedback to classmates. By using statements that shift focus from a student’s shortcomings and critiques that use negative language, such as “You can’t…” or “You didn’t…,” classmates can make a difference in how assessments are perceived. Encourage students to use phrases that include the more self-centered “I” and positive words such as “like” and “wish.” Hearing a peer say “I liked your use of contemporary and past female STEM pioneers” or “I wish you had included more mathematicians” is more helpful to students than being told “You didn’t use any mathematicians” or “You can’t have a thorough understanding of STEM when only one mathematician is included.”