Peer assessment in health professions education

Wiam Elshami, Mohamed Elhassan Abdalla


Objectives: The aim of this review is to appraise the available literature on peer assessment, its implementation, students’ perceptions and its strengths and limitations.
Materials and Methods: A search was prospectively designed to locate the literature relevant to achieving the aims of the review. A pilot review was conducted to ascertain the volume of literature. A wide range of closely related search terms was utilised and combined.
Results: Results of the review show that peer assessment is a valuable experience, and most students enjoy the peer assessment process. The mutual process of peer assessment has a positive impact on students’ learning; it allows students to evaluate themselves, comment on each other's work and develop more detailed knowledge. It motivates them to achieve better learning outcomes, promotes self-awareness and increases confidence. Students’ involvement in the assessment process supports their learning and encourages reflection. Peer assessment improves clinical performance, as it develops critical thinking and problem-solving skills, encourages self-assessment and promotes reflective practice.
Conclusions: Similar to all assessment methods, peer assessment has advantages and drawbacks. Concerns about the reliability and validity of peer assessment are raised in the literature. To overcome these drawbacks, authors recommend double marking by faculty members, multiple peer assessors, and clear grading criteria. Furthermore, providing written feedback rather than grades, as well as ensuring anonymity, are recommended in the peer assessment process to ensure a safe environment that can promote students’ comfort. Nevertheless, student support throughout the peer assessment process is important for proper implementation.

Keywords: Peer assessment, Peer assessment implementation, Assessment in health professions education

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