Instructional Science

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 387–406 | Cite as

Students’ perceptions about peer assessment for writing: their origin and impact on revision work

  • Julia H. Kaufman
  • Christian D. Schunn


We investigate students’ negative perceptions about an online peer assessment system for undergraduate writing across the disciplines. Specifically, we consider the nature of students’ resistance to peer assessment; what factors influence that resistance; and how students’ perceptions impact their revision work. We do this work by first examining findings from an end-of-course survey administered to 250 students in ten courses across six universities using an online peer assessment system called SWoRD for their writing assignments. Those findings indicate that students have the most positive perceptions of SWoRD in those courses where an instructor graded their work in addition to peers (as opposed to peer-only grading). We then move to an in-depth examination of perceptions and revision work among 84 students using SWoRD and no instructor grading for assessment of writing in one university class. Findings from that study indicate that students sometimes regard peer assessment as unfair and often believe that peers are unqualified to review and assess students’ work. Furthermore, students’ perceptions about the fairness of peer assessment drop significantly following students’ experience in doing peer assessment. Students’ fairness perceptions—and drops in those perceptions—are most significantly associated with their perceptions about the extent to which peers’ feedback is useful and positive. However, students’ perceptions appear to be unrelated to the extent of their revision work. This research fills a considerable gap in the literature regarding the origin of students’ negative perceptions about peer assessment, as well as how perceptions influence performance.


Peer assessment Peer feedback Peer review Higher education Student perceptions Student attitudes Resistance Technology Writing Revision 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Learning Research and Development CenterUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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