Use of Peer-Assessment in ESL Writing Classes: Learners’ Perception


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


Although peer-assessment tends to offer various benefits, and teachers and learners hold positive perception about peer-assessment, conventional paper-based assessment remains dominant in most of the educational programmes, including university English as a Second Language (ESL) courses. Hence, more studies are needed to make teachers, course designers and material designers aware of the potential benefits of peer-assessment. Most importantly, it is useful to examine what learners think about peer-assessment. Therefore, the present study, involving eighty three (N=83) first-year students following a compulsory English as a second language (ESL) course and forty-two (N-42) second year students pursuing English as a major at a state university in Sri Lanka, investigated the learners’ perception of peer-assessment. The study adopted the mixed methods approach in research. After the participants gained hands on experience in peer-assessment in an ESL writing class, they shared their views regarding their experience through a questionnaire, focus group discussion and reflective essay. The qualitative data were analyzed using deductive content analysis method while the quantitative data were analyzed using Microsoft Excel that produced descriptive statistics. The findings revealed that the ESL undergraduates generally hold positive perception about peer-assessment. However, limited language proficiency of the learners and friendship biases remain as challenges to implement peer-assessment practices effectively. The generalizability of the findings of the present study is subject to certain limitations as the sample was drawn from one particular state university. Further studies with a larger sample representing several universities are recommended in order to shed light on the potential of peer-assessment.