Effects of Anonymity and Accountability During Online Peer Assessment

Effects of Anonymity and Accountability During Online Peer Assessment

Gunita Wadhwa (Memorial University, Canada), Henry Schulz (Memorial University, Canada) and Bruce L. Mann (Memorial University, Canada)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 32
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-732-4.ch020

Abstract

A 2´2 experiment was conducted to determine the effects of anonymity (anonymous vs. named) and peer-accountability (more-accountable vs. less-accountable) on peer over-marking, and on the criticality and quality of peer comments during online peer assessment. Thirty-six graduate students in a Web-based education research methods course were required to critique two published research articles as a part of their course. Peer assessment was carried out on the first critique. Students were randomly assigned to one of the four groups. Peer assessors were randomly assigned three students’ critiques to assess. Peer assessors and the students being assessed were from the same group. Peer assessors assigned a numeric mark and commented on students’ critiques. The four main results were: First, significantly fewer peer assessors over-marked (i.e., assigned a higher mark relative to the instructor) in the anonymous group as compared to the named group (p < .04). Second, peer assessors in the anonymous group provided a significantly higher number of critical comments (i.e., weaknesses) as compared to the named group (p < .01). Third, peer assessors in the named groupand the more-accountable group made a significantly higher number of quality comments (i.e., cognitive statements indicating strengths and weakness along with reasoned responses and suggestions for improvement), compared to the peer assessors in the anonymous group and the less-accountable group (p < .01). Lastly, the students’ responses to the questionnaire indicated that they found the peer assessment process helpful. This study suggests that in online peer assessment, the anonymity and the degree of peer-accountability affect peer marking and comments.

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