Entitlement, Peer Assessment and Apprenticeship.

I’m designing a big website right now for AIM – an online teacher training and ongoing development site to train and support the specific AIM approach. I’m providing the shape and system, not the content.

A huge part of the design process for me has been the goal of peer assessment, until it occurred to me that perhaps the idea of peer assessment is just a little indicative of our entitlement culture.  It is easy to talk about peer assessment as if it is a democratic cure to conventional hierarchical assessment, but does it contain any real rigour, the training in minimizing subjectivity, the check beforehand that the assessor is worthy to assess the assessed?

Without this, the actual peer assessment has little value beyond advice and encouragement. Worthy in itself within the process of learning, but rather hollow when it comes to an attempt to objectively assess the reaching of a goal/stage/level…a product. To solution to add specific aspects of training for all users that addresses the meta level of assessment is asking too much and quite probably nurturing a skill that was never central to the initial required outcomes?

No, I think we should see peer assessment as guidance at most, and keep a central element of top-down wisdom to ensure actual mastery is happening. However, to get masters you also need apprentices. Free the concept of apprenticeship from its Dickensian connotations and re-introduce it within an elegant wireframe and I think we might have something significantly more exciting and nurturing. Basically, would the Dodger have been half as Artful if he got nothing more that peer assessment?!

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