What's wrong with peer-marking and what can be done to fix it?

How to apply more effective peer-marking to project-based learning modules.

the definitive guide for project-based learning modules in engineering


In this short article, we will discuss peer-marking; what it does well and what can be improved.

What works

Peer-marking is an excellent method to reduce academic workload, particularly on larger modules with 100+ students on them. It is also a great way to give students 'a say' in the module. Don't forget that 'the student voice' is a particularly important metric in the National Student Survey.

Peer-marking is an effective tool for identifying non-engaging students on modules. Students can often 'disguise' their lack of contribution to the team from academics, but rarely from their peers.

What isn't working?

One of the main weaknesses of peer-marking is the dependence on students to apply marking criteria. This is rarely done well due to inexperience and students wanting to be liked by their peers.

The solution

Comparative peer-marking is an effective tool for overcoming the requirement for directly applying marking criteria. With Peermarkify students rank their peers against one another for given criteria i.e. who is the best leader? This provides a more subjective result than meerly assigning grades directly. A further benefit is the lack of grade inflation that occurs.


Peer-marking should remain in project-based learning modules, as it provides students 'a voice' and identifies non-engaging students. However allowing students to provide subjective grades simply causes grade inflation and is rarely effective.

Comparative peer-marking is an effective solution which provides subjective grades against set criteria, overcoming issues of grade inflation adn still giving students 'a voice'.