Affective factors of peer-assessment: perceptions of learners in English as a second language writing class


  • P.B.S.L. Pushpakumara Department of English Language Teaching, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Nugegoda


Peer-assessment has drawn attention as a viable alternative assessment in the recent past. There is empirical evidence that peer-assessment enhances learner performance and various other skills. Further, previous studies that have examined the affective factors related to peer-assessment suggest that it reduces learner anxiety and stress and enhances confidence and motivation. However, some argue that peer-assessment increases stress, and that learners develop negative attitudes towards peer-assessment. These mixed views seem to have prevented teachers from incorporating peer-assessment into their teaching. Therefore, an investigation to determine if learners believe that peer-assessment reduces anxiety and stress and enhances their confidence and motivation will shed light on this topic. The present study was conducted using one hundred and twenty-five (N=125) participants in a state university in Sri Lanka to explore their perception regarding the potential of peer-assessment to lower students’ anxiety and stress and enhance their motivation in English as a second language writing class. Qualitative data obtained through a questionnaire, focus group interviews and written reflections were analyzed using the qualitative content analysis method. The results suggested that peer-assessment reduced anxiety and stress and enhanced motivation because peer-assessment which took place among peers encouraged learners to openly discuss and freely exchange ideas on their writing. However, some participants identified limited language proficiency, limited competence in using marking scheme to evaluate English writing and friendship related biases as challenges and demotivating factors of peer-assessment in the English writing class. The participants of the study proposed group-based peer-assessment, use of a comprehensive marking scheme and regular practice in peer-assessment as solutions to overcome these challenges. Therefore, group-based peer-assessment using a suitable marking scheme can be recommended as a viable alternative assessment method to develop English writing skills of students in higher education institutes in Sri Lanka and other similar contexts.


KEYWORDS: Alternative assessment, Affective factors, English writing skills, Peer-assessment, Perception