Exploring peer assessment: practices and views of ESL learners

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Prof. Pauline Rea- Dickins

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Lilian Vikiru


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


In most Kenyan Secondary schools, assessment of students is high stakes where grading, labeling and league tables take the centre stage. These high stakes tests are formally certified and the certificates determine one’s educational achievements in life and access to employment. There are also school based tests which are ultimately the responsibility of teachers and school administrators. However, these tests are a replica of the national examination papers and do not support student learning. The pedagogical culture is shifting the world over to one that conceptualizes learning as an active contextualized process of constructing knowledge based on personal experiences. In this respect, teachers are being encouraged to engage in a learning-integrated mode of assessment where students learn collaboratively with their peers through active participation and consultation. This study identifies peer assessment as an innovation that teachers can adapt if they want to involve students actively in the teaching and learning process. Most studies carried out on peer assessment are found in Higher Education with very few in secondary schools. Conversely, they frequently investigate the effectiveness of peer assessment comparing peer, self and teacher assessment without explicitly finding out students’ perceptions. Thus this study sought to explore peer assessment practices and students’ perceptions on PA in a secondary school in Kenya. The study employed a qualitative case study design with one teacher of English and thirty year nine students as participants. Data was collected through lesson observations, interviews, students’ essays and document analysis. The findings established students’ varied views on most aspects; however there was a general consensus that peer assessment using a scoring rubric was beneficial to students as it gave them a clear guideline on how to approach their assignments. Further, students perceived peer assessment as helpful if they got quality feedback from their peers. The curriculum, resources, teacher’s attitude and time were some of the influencing factors of peer assessment. The study was carried out in an ideal school where peer assessment is fully structured and supported which is not a common scenario in the Kenyan public secondary schools where most students receive their education. Further studies should be conducted in the mainstream schools in Kenya where they practice peer assessment and investigate how teachers and students in these schools manage to go about this practice.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library