Oral presentations represent one of the most popular speaking activities in language classrooms. One way to implement oral presentations in the classroom is using simultaneous presentations in which students give presentations in small groups. These types of oral presentations have several benefits, such as giving students more speaking time and reducing speaking anxiety, which is a pervasive problem in public speaking (Woodrow, 2006). One drawback of simultaneous presentations is that it is nearly impossible for the teacher to monitor all the concurrent sessions and evaluate the students individually. For this reason, many teachers adopt some sort of a peer feedback procedure to involve the students in the feedback process. In this article, I will introduce PeerEval: a simple and customizable mobile-based system that allows students to evaluate their peers and give individual comments in real time.
Benefits of Peer Feedback
Peer feedback has several potential benefits for both students and teachers. First, peer feedback can promote greater student involvement in the presentations. As students become “evaluators” in the peer feedback activity, they are likely to develop a sense of responsibility and autonomy in the learning process (Topping, 2009). Second, effective implementation of peer feedback can help the teacher save time on giving feedback to individual students. Research suggests that through training, students are able to acquire an ability to make judgments of their peers’ performance in a similar manner as the teacher (Patri, 2002). Students’ feedback may also be richer and more individualized than teacher feedback, especially in simultaneous presentations in which the teacher is often unable to attend to the details of the presentations. Finally, peer feedback can help students to increase meta-cognitive awareness about the assessment criteria (Saito, 2008). In other words, the act of evaluating their peers can assist the students in realizing the purposes and objectives of the learning task. This in turn may enhance their learning process and lead to improvement in their speaking performance.
Advantages of PeerEval Over Paper-Based Peer Feedback
Although peer feedback could be a valuable asset to classroom teaching, the traditional paper-based peer evaluation has some drawbacks, such as having to collect and manage substantial paperwork, the delay in the feedback process, and the lack of anonymity. PeerEval addresses these problems effectively. With PeerEval, the teacher can collate and store all the evaluations in real time on an online platform. PeerEval also provides the students with immediate access to their evaluation results, which is one of the most attractive features of PeerEval from the students’ perspective (Gobel & Kano, 2019). If they wish, students can take a screenshot of their evaluation results on their smartphone and keep a record for later reference. PeerEval also protects students’ anonymity, as all the individual marks and comments are sent anonymously via a non-face-to-face medium. The anonymity in the peer feedback process may contribute to reducing the students’ pressure in giving honest and critical feedback to their peers (Wu & Miller, 2020). In the next section, I will describe how to set up PeerEval and use it in the language classroom.
Overview of PeerEval
PeerEval (https://peereval.mobi) consists of two components: (1) a website for the teacher to set up the class, and (2) a mobile app or a browser-based system for the students to use in the classroom. Teachers can use PeerEval for free for a one-time use only with time-limited access to data, or pay a fee for permanent access. To set up PeerEval for classroom use, the teacher should follow the steps below:
- Create a class on the teacher website
- Input a student list manually or by uploading a .csv file
- Set up a session (e.g., “Presentation #1”)
- Choose an assessment rubric
An assessment rubric can be chosen from the sample rubrics provided on the website, or teachers can customize their own using 4-point and 5-point Likert-scale measures (Figure 1).
In the classroom, students will use the iOS app or the browser-based system that can be used on any electronic device. To use the system, students must enter the access code and username provided by the teacher. Note that the username must match the name pre-inputted by the teacher during the initial setup (otherwise an error message will appear). At the start of each student presentation, students will select the name of the presenter. During or after the presentation, students will evaluate their peer’s presentation by tapping the numerical scores and writing individual comments. Students can revise their evaluations at any time if necessary (the previous submission will be overwritten). Once all the presentations are finished, the teacher can view the results on his or her computer. Students can also check their individual scores and comments by tapping the gear icon on the top right corner (Figure 2).
Using PeerEval for Group Presentations
Although PeerEval is designed to be used for individual presentations, I have found it useful for group presentations as well. To adapt for group presentations, the teacher would need to add the group names to the student list. For instance, if there are three groups, the teacher would add Group 1, Group 2, and Group 3 (or using names of one’s own choice) in the same way as in adding individual students. When evaluating each group presentation, students would then choose the group as the presenter. Once all the presentations have been finished, students should log out of their student account and re-login using their group’s account (by inputting the group name). This way, students can collectively access and view the feedback results as a group.
Student Mobile Screen
Challenges with PeerEval
Teachers should be aware of some potential challenges in using PeerEval (these also apply to paper-based peer feedback). First, students often tend to rate their peers leniently. This could be due to social power relations (Wu & Miller, 2020) or students’ lack of confidence in assessing their peers’ oral proficiency (Cheng & Warren, 2005). To elicit more appropriate and accurate peer evaluations, some sort of training might be necessary (Saito, 2008; Patri, 2002). Another concern with peer feedback is that some students might fail to see the value in the peer feedback activity. Moreover, distrust in the peers’ ability to give accurate feedback could result in dissatisfaction with the peer feedback process (Zhou et al., 2020). Hence, it might be beneficial to discuss with the students the purposes and objectives of peer evaluation as well as basic manners in giving feedback to their peers. The issues of manners and respect might be especially important considering the anonymous nature of PeerEval.
PeerEval is a useful mobile-based peer feedback system that has the potential to increase student engagement during in-class presentations. By allowing for real-time and anonymous feedback, PeerEval provides solutions to some of the practical problems that traditional paper-based peer feedback poses. By understanding its strengths and unique features, instructors can use the system in a way that best serves their classroom teaching and encourages learners to be actively involved in collaborative learning.
Cheng, W., & Warren, M. (2005). Peer assessment of language proficiency. Language Testing, 22(1), 93–121. https://doi.org/10.1191/0265532205lt298oa
Gobel, P., & Kano, M. (2019). Evaluation of a mobile peer-evaluation system for in-class presentations. In 16th International Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning in Digital Age, CELDA 2019 (pp. 405–408). https://doi.org/10.33965/celda2019_201911c051
Patri, M. (2002). The influence of peer feedback on self- and peer-assessment of oral skills. Language Testing, 19(2), 109–131. https://doi.org/10.1191/0265532202lt224oa
Saito, H. (2008). EFL classroom peer assessment: Training effects on rating and commenting. Language Testing, 25(4), 553–581. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532208094276
Topping, K. J. (2009). Peers as a source of formative assessment. In H. Andrade & G. J. Cizek (Eds.), Handbook of Formative Assessment (pp. 61–74). Routledge.
Woodrow, L. (2006). Anxiety and speaking English as a second language. RELC Journal, 37(3), 308–328. https://doi.org/10.1177/0033688206071315
Wu, J. G., & Miller, L. (2020). Improving English learners’ speaking through mobile-assisted peer feedback. RELC Journal, 51(1), 168–178. https://doi.org/10.1177/0033688219895335
Zhou, J., Zheng, Y., & Tai, J. H.-M. (2020). Grudges and gratitude: The social-affective impacts of peer assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 45(3), 345–358. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2019.1643449