European Journal of Psychology of Education

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 75–99 | Cite as

Anonymity as an instructional scaffold in peer assessment: its effects on peer feedback quality and evolution in students’ perceptions about peer assessment skills

  • Tijs RotsaertEmail author
  • Ernesto Panadero
  • Tammy Schellens


Although previous research has indicated that providing anonymity is an effective way to create a safe peer assessment setting, continuously ensuring anonymity prevents students from experiencing genuine two-way interactive feedback dialogues. The present study investigated how installing a transitional approach from an anonymous to a non-anonymous peer assessment setting can overcome this problem. A total of 46 bachelor’s degree students in Educational Studies participated in multiple peer assessment cycles in which groups of students assessed each other’s work. Both students’ evolution in peer feedback quality as well as their perceptions were measured. The content analysis of the peer feedback messages revealed that the quality of peer feedback increased in the anonymous phase, and that over time, the feedback in the consecutive non-anonymous sessions was of similar quality. The results also indicate that the transitional approach does not hinder the perceived growth in peer feedback skills, nor does it have a negative impact on their general conceptions towards peer assessment. Furthermore, students clearly differentiated between their attributed importance of anonymity and their view on the usefulness of a transitional approach. The findings suggest that anonymity can be a valuable scaffold to ease students’ importance level towards anonymity and their associated need for practice.


Anonymity Peer assessment Peer feedback 



The first author’s research was funded by Ghent University BOF fund number BOF13/24J/115.

The second author’s research was funded by the Spanish Ramón y Cajal program number RYC-2013-13469.


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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisboa, Portugal and Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Psychology and Educational SciencesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Departamento de Psicología Evolutiva y de la EducaciónUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain

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