Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Peer Evaluations

“Smith turned to student-peer ratings of forty-two common personality traits, based on each student's observation of the actual classroom behavior of his or her classmates. A statistical technique called factor analysis then allowed for the identification of five general traits-agreeableness, extroversion, work orientation, emotionality and helpfulness-that proved stable across different samples. Of these five traits, only the work-orientation factor, which Smith calls "strength of character"-including such traits as ". . . not a quitter, conscientious, responsible, insistently orderly, not prone to daydreaming, determined, persevering . . ."-was related to school success. Smith then proceeded to show that, in several samples, this work-orientation trait was three times more successful in predicting post-high-school academic performance than any combination of thirteen cognitive variables, including SAT verbal, SAT mathematical, and school class rank.”

I’m glad that Smith found a way beyond standardized testing. Everyone knows that standardized tests are too objective and cannot tell a school or employer a student’s true aptitude, but no one really had a good alternative. Although we discussed the personal essay as a good way to tell a student’s personality, I believe that Smith is on to something. A student might not test well, but be the most conscientious student in the class. Relying on peers, who are quite honest in most cases, seems to be a good way to put a face and personality to a transcript. I believe that this aspect should be added to a person’s portfolio. Although it is quite possible that you could run into human nature, and some students would be unfairly scrutinized or lauded, I believe that in general it could really work. It might be able to help a student go places they deserve to, but otherwise wouldn’t be given the opportunity to.

Can peer evaluations help or hinder?

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