OneNote in Education eBook – Chapter 5: OneNote for peer assessment

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Recently, we published an eBook with the help of #MIEExpert Emma Hicks, which looks at how OneNote can be used in the classroom to help teaching and learning. Following this, we are running a series of blogs which look at the eBook chapters in more detail. Chapter 5 looks at how OneNote creates a single digital space, providing a hassle free and accessible way to conduct peer assessment. The previous blogs can be found here:

Chapter 1: What is OneNote?
Chapter 2: OneNote Class Notebook
Chapter 3: OneNote for collective learning
Chapter 4: Assessment for learning


Chapter 5: OneNote for peer assessment

Peer assessment is used as an alternative but effective way of teaching students what is required to succeed when answering questions. If a student can identify the strengths and critique the weaknesses of a peers work, then this understanding can be applied to improving their own work. OneNote brings this into a single digital space creating a hassle free and accessible way to peer assess. As a digital space, there is no need for students to be swapping exercise books and they are able to peer assess from any device in the classroom or at home. Distributing books, organising who’s going to work with who, and handing out the all-important coloured pens may in fact (especially with certain classes!) take more time and energy in the lesson than the peer assessment itself.

Students’ work is shared in a collective space on OneNote. Using OneNote’s tags constructive feedback is structured and easy to follow. Often I ask my students to provide feedback to two or three of their peers to increase their exposure to varied responses. I would recommend providing an additional page on OneNote for a mark scheme that the students can access and refer to whilst peer assessing.

The example in the eBook demonstrates OneNote’s collective nature of peer assessment, with students providing different feedback to a variety of student work. This has proved highly effective with my less confident students as they do not need to identify themselves when providing the feedback and therefore their levels of contribution increase. My high end learners are often challenged with individualised tasks such as peer assessing a greater number of examples or transferring B grade work to A grade work.

OneNote’s tags encourage students to cover a variety of areas in their feedback. The tags show the students what is required for detailed feedback and can also be differentiated to represent different levels of thinking. As you can see in the example, the tags promote questioning (the question mark), the giving and sharing of ideas (the light bulb icon) and the positive features of their work (the tick/star). I have found that students respond well to the tags, enjoying the similarities they share with emoticons on social media. On OneNote, feedback can be more visually appealing not only through the use of tags but also the students’ ability to position their responses around the work. They are also free to build on the feedback of others. Perhaps they can strengthen someone’s idea or help to answer a question that has been posed. The tags have proved a fantastic support system to students who require more scaffolding into peer assessment. They can use the tags to structure the feedback they give but also the tags construct a student’s ‘to do list’ creating a step by step approach to improvements.

The tags also function as my direct link to students who require teacher support during peer assessment. I can search for tags/ buzz words within student feedback (all which have been previously discussed with the class) and can then assist the class throughout by responding quickly to their questions. An example of this could be a student struggling to peer assess the use of metaphors in a response. By writing the phrase “help metaphor” on their work when I search for “help metaphor” I am instantly shown a list of the students who are struggling at this aspect without the need to read through everybody’s work.

I have found peer assessment on OneNote particularly supportive with my A level groups whilst they complete coursework. Peer assessment has enabled me to check their understanding of the mark scheme and has also enabled me to identify individual strengths within the class. I can direct students to good examples of each section of the coursework and encourage them to take notes and apply what they’ve read to their own work. Students seem to respond more positively to examples of work when it has been written by their peers rather than the teacher or the textbook example.


In Chapter 6, we will look at how OneNote can be used to increase the sense of control for students in order to support their independent learning.

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