Peer Assessment and Metacognition

Anne Haggerson

Freelance

 Santiago de Compostela, Spain

BRIGHTON IATEFL Workshop Overview

I gave a workshop on the value and benefits of self and peer feedback in TOEFL speaking tasks entitled, Enhancing TOEFL Speaking Tasks through Peer Assessment and Metacognition at the IATEFL conference in Brigton in 2024.   My goal was to help teachers understand how to carry out a peer feedback protocol in their classrooms and motivate them to adapt the protocol and checklist to their own teaching contexts. 

I  began by activating teachers’ prior knowledge about peer feedback by brainstorming in pairs the challenges and benefits of using it in the classroom.  Then, we cascaded our knowledge out to the larger group and eachers in the session shared ideas such as: Peer feedback creates more collaboration in the classroom, it takes some of the pressure off the teacher, it shifts the power dynamic and places more responsibility on the learners, it increases metacognition, and it encourages ELF (English as a Lingua Franca).  

TOEFL Speaking Tasks and Peer Feedback

The session was geared towards teachers who prepare students for the TOEFL exam or for other university entrance exams that require a certain level of academic English.  First, I explained that we would be focusing on the integrated TOEFL speaking task, which combined a 100 word reading passage about an academic topic and a 90 second university lecture on the topic.  Students have 60 seconds to summarize, synthesize, and paraphrase the information in a coherent response.  As you can see, the task is challenging and it requires multiple linguistic skills, an added challenge for teachers.  My goal was to show teachers how to incorporate peer feedback into their lesson plans. 

I modeled how I would typcially sequence a lesson plan for the integrated task and I explained that, for the listening task,  it is useful to provide students with a graphic organizer so they can take organized notes about the 90 second lecture on bee communication.  We looked at the TOEFL iBT objectives and decided which objective applied to taking notes in the graphic organizer and how it could be transformed and simplified to be used in the peer-feedback checklist. 

Creating a Peer Feedback Protocol and Checklist

Through this process, I wanted to demonstrate how to develop the peer feedback criteria from the learning objectives in a collaborative way with the help of our students.   Peer feedback is likely to be most effective when it is integrated into classroom practice as a normal and regular activity, rather than as a one-off (Giving Feedback to Language Learners, 2020).  Finally, one participant pointed out the fact that peer feedback helps with metacognition, an idea upheld by Norris et al., 2017 who state, “Self and peer assessment can also stimulate metacognition by having students think about how they learn…” (p.99).  Students become more autonomous an aware of what they are learning, how they are learning, and why it is important.  

The Challenges of Peer Feedback

One of challenges teachers identified at the opening of the workshop is that students don’t know how give proper feedback, nor do they feel qualified to do so. The teachers concurred that it is difficult to model how to give peer feedback and that students feel that it isn’t their role and I attempted to address these concerns in the workshop.The results indicate that students view peer feedback as valuable and effective. Nevertheless, the research shows that students have difficulty giving peer feedback and need a model to follow or they only give limited kinds of feedback (Dang Thi Nguyet & Le Thi Huong, 2023). Taking this challenge into account, I designed a way of developing very specific criteria with the students based on the lesson objectives.  

Solutions and Conclusions

Finally, using BINGO cards, I modeled how teachers could develop target and varied skills in speaking games that align with the TOELF objectives.  I created these BINGO cards in Powerpoint using an add-on, but I also found out there is a popular website, where teachers can creat their own BINGO cards online using bingobaker.com and adapt the game to feature whatever language focus they are working on in their clasroom.  In small groups, teachers worked with their partners to create peer feedback criteria for the form based on four different BINGO cards that focused on vocabulary, linking words, paraphrasing, and grammar.  Lastly, teachers reflected on the process, challenges, and possibilities of adapting peer feedback in their own classrooms and contexts.  

Peer Feedback Checklist

What to listen for

Yes

Partly

No

       
       
       

Comments: 

(Peer feedback checklist that can be adapted to different learning contexts)

References

Dang Thi Nguyet & Le Thi Huong. (2023). Students’ Percepetions on Using Rubrics as a Peer and Self-Assessment Tool in EFL Speaking Courses. International Journal of TESOL & Education, 3(3).

Giving Feedback to Language Learners. (2020). Cambridge University Press. cambridge.org/betterlearning

Norris, J. M., Davis, J. McE., & Timpe-Laughlin, V. (2017). Second Language Educational Experiences for Adult Learners: Innovations in Language Learning and Assessment at ETS. Routledge.

Email: ahaggerson@gmail.com

Additional info: In an anonymous comment that was sent through a feedback form after the talk, one participant noted that peer feedback values students’ criticism of each other and on what is mutually intelligible (or otherwise) as ELF users, which will vary based on what the teacher, who is from a presumably different background/knowledge base/genearation) would perceive as an “error” in need of correction, so the focus would be more on overall coherence rather than pronunciation and intonation.  

 I showed teachers  how they might use a digital lexical puzzle as a warm-up to teach the target vocabulary in the TOEFL lesson that would appear in the reading passage, matching up different words to connect the puzzle pieces, identify the definitions of the words, see them in context, identify the form, and the pronunciation and stress.  I explained that the reason behind introducing the target vocabulary in this way was to make the proces more student-centered, game-based, and discovery-based.