Peer assessment of mathematical understanding using comparative judgement
Ian Jones and David Sirl
It is relatively straightforward to assess procedural knowledge and difficult to assess conceptual understanding in mathematics. One reason is that conceptual understanding is better assessed using open-ended test questions that invite an unpredictable variety of responses that are difficult to mark. Recently a technique, called comparative judgement, has been developed that enables the reliable and valid scoring of open-ended tests. We applied this technique to the peer assessment of calculus on a first-year mathematics module. We explored the reliability and criterion validity of the outcomes using psychometric methods and a survey of participants. We report evidence that the assessment activity was reliable and valid, and discuss the strengths and limitations, as well as the practical implications, of our findings.
Ian Jones obtained a PhD in Mathematics Education from the University of Warwick and is a Senior Lecturer in the Mathematics Education Centre at Loughborough University, UK. Prior to this he was a Royal Society Shuttleworth Education Research Fellow and taught in primary and secondary schools for ten years. His research interests are in school children’s learning of algebra and the assessment of procedural and conceptual understanding of mathematics.
David Sirl is a Lecturer in the School of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Nottingham. He is enjoying spending some time working with education researchers to explore new ways of improving teaching and learning.