Access Peer Assess ProTM Software Get Started

Encourage courageous conversations

Step 6 – Promote courageous conversations among your students

See how we create better teams through better feedback

Download our eBook now! – “How to teach using group assignments”

Courageous conversations

We review then despatch a personalised report to each student comprising their personal result, peer assessed ratings, and developmental feedback to guide improvement in their future teamwork. We prepare our students to engage in courageous conversations with their teammates. We review opportunities to improve the weakest teamwork capabilities identified across the entire class.


  • Enter the results you award for each team’s delivered outputs, the team results
  • Conduct a final quality assurance review of results
  • Prepare the students to receive their personal feedback reports
  • Despatch personal feedback reports for review by students
  • Support and encourage your students to engage in courageous conversations with their teammates
  • Ensure students understand their received feedback and act proactively to improve their future teamwork behaviour
  • Discuss opportunities for improvement to the weakest teamwork capabilities identified in the class
  • Respond proactively to critical areas of feedback identified for you by your students
  • Resolve student reactions to unexpected feedback reports
  • Finalise the survey so that no more survey responses can be added or personal results adjusted

Prepare the personal results gradebook

Now that you have reached the conclusion of your group assignment, you will have available the team results you awarded for each team’s delivered outputs. Your platform can now calculate the personal result for each student based on their peer assessed score and the team result for their team.

  • Enter the team results for each team into your digital teammate peer assessment platform
  • Apply the personal result calculation method you announced in your assignment specification, Step 1 – Prepare the group assignment, Chapter 3.
  • Calibrate the scale factor to weight the relative importance of the team result or peer assessed score in influencing the personal result calculated for each student, Step 5 – Manage – Calibrate spread of personal results, Chapter 7.

Conduct final quality assurance review

Before updating and publishing the final results to students, conduct a final review to identify unacceptable peer assessment rating behavior by teams or individuals such as lazy raters, conspiratorial teams, outlier raters, at risk students and unrealistic self assessments. You may have dealt with some of these issues during your mid-point review Step 5 – Manage the peer assessment, Chapter 7. Since your priority now is to deliver the feedback results to students, you may not wish to deal with these issues now. Instead, be prepared for private correspondence with the teams or individuals during your class feedback session. A process for dealing with adverse student reactions is presented later in this chapter.

REMINDER! Before you release ANY results to students ensure they are prepared to receive and learn from the feedback they will receive. This preparation should be conducted ideally in a face-to-face session or virtual meeting with your class.

Despatch personal feedback report

Now you can despatch the personal feedback reports for view by each student. A typical report includes

  • Quantitative personal result, peer assessed score and the team result
  • Qualitative feedback providing specific evidence for the ratings given
  • Developmental feedback from teammates advising what behaviours the student could implement to improve their future contribution to the team’s output and/or teamwork processes
  • Graphics that illustrate the extent to which the student’s self-assessment matches or differs from the peer assessed ratings for the attributes measured on the peer assessment survey rubric
  • An Index of Realistic Self-Assessment (IRSA), comparing the ratio of self-assessment to the peer assessed score, and an interpretation of the significance of the value determined (realistic, overconfident, underconfident)
  • Guidance to additional resources for interpretation, advice and development
  • A reminder of the ratings and feedback the student provided to their teammates.

Several of these elements are illustrated for a typical peer assessment platform in Gallery 8.1

Gallery 8.1 Student’s personal feedback report

Student reactions to personal feedback reports

When students receive their peer feedback report, their emotional reactions will vary widely. That’s a normal reaction to personal feedback and is part of the journey towards your students improving their self-awareness and their ability to understand and work with others. Some of the reactions that could be felt by students include

  • Shock horror and denial “That’s not what I expected. I know I did better than that! I cannot believe this feedback.”
  • Acceptance “I know I didn’t pull my weight and I tried to game the system. Now I know my teacher knows I was foolish and lazy.”
  • Satisfaction and pride “I worked hard, and my efforts have been acknowledged and rewarded by my teammates.”
  • Surprise and delight “I worked in my usual manner, but I’m surprised how strongly positive my teammates valued my contributions.”
  • Incomprehension and disappointment “I believe I can achieve a better personal result next time. However, I don’t understand the basis for my teammates’ rating, nor how they expect me to adjust my behaviour in our future work together.”

Courageous conversations

Prepare your students for receiving and responding productively to their feedback reports.

  • Alert your students to the range of possible emotions they may sense upon receiving their feedback report – shock horror, denial, surprise, incomprehension, disappointment, satisfaction, pride or delight.
  • Explain the importance of using the feedback positively and proactively to better understand themselves and improve their future teamwork.Having a good sense of who you are enables you to build upon your strengths and correct your weaknesses. In turn, that can make you more successful at work and in your personal life. You are able to better understand, predict and cope with others more effectively. You can better distinguish valid and invalid informal and formal feedback from others. You are more likely to select (and achieve!) realistic personal goals. (‘Exceptionally Realistic Self-Image’, 2012)
  • Encourage teammates to engage in face-to-face courageous conversations – to seek and give feedback to each other according to the guidelines for asking for feedback presented in Table 8.1.
  • Advise alternative approaches for engaging directly with their teammates particularly for those students who are feeling ‘shock horror’, incomprehension, or disappointment. Indicate the steps detailed later in this chapter, including the ultimate remedy of submitting an appeal under the institution’s academic policies.

Table 8.1 Guidelines for asking for feedback

OpennessPerception is realClarify, not defendAppreciate
Before asking for feedback, ensure you are open to hearing information that may alter your perception. Prepare yourself to hear things that may make you uncomfortable.Be aware that the person giving you feedback is describing their own perception of the situation. However, realize that their feelings about the situation are real.Check your understanding of the feedback. Ask questions or give examples. Share your reaction(s). Clarify issues, explain your actions and correct perceptions people may have of you. However, do not defend and debate!Express your appreciation for the person who has given you feedback. It may have been difficult for the person to be honest with you. It is important that you show clearly and unequivocally that you welcome their feedback.
Source: Table 2.1, p. 33 in Quinn, Faerman, Thompson & McGrath (2003)

TIP! Help your students develop the courage to ask “Whatʼs one thing you see me doing (or failing to do) that holds me back?” – Heen, 2015

Harvard professor of negotiation Sheila Heen explains the emotional challenge of giving and receiving feedback. She argues that if you want to improve learning in your team, “the smart money is on figuring out how to receive feedback—even off-base or poorly delivered feedback—and use it to fuel growth”. In Movie 8.1 let’s view the later part of her TEDx presentation where Professor Heen explains how to ask a most productive question “Whatʼs one thing you see me doing (or failing to do) that holds me back?” Consider sharing this movie resource with your students.

Movie 8.1 How to use others’ feedback to learn and grow?

Conduct a feedback event

Provide time in class for teams to undertake courageous conversations through a safely-mediated feedback event, an agenda for which is presented in Table 8.2.

When this is your students’ first or early experience of a teammate peer assessment allocate time to conducted a feedback event under your supervision in class. For a typical team of five teammates, the time required will be about 70 to 80 minutes.

The investment in time will be most worthwhile if your academic programme is an early-scheduled component of the Teamwork across the curriculum approach, Chapter 2. In their later programmes, encourage students to take the initiative to undertake their own feedback event outside your valuable class contact time.

Table 8.2 Agenda for a feedback event

StepDuration (minutes)Activity
PreparationEnsure students bring their Personal Feedback Report to the scheduled event. Ensure they are prepared according to the ‘Guidelines for feedback’.
NominateNominate one teammate in each team to be the first recipient for feedback.
Feedback10Each teammate provides feedback, followed by constructive discussion.
Repeat10 eachRepeat the feedback process for each teammate.
Reflect10Each team to should reflect on these questions “How do you feel about the Feedback Event process? What specifically were you feeling when your were giving or receiving feedback? What worked well? What could be improved? How might you make the process more effective?
Action plan10Each teammate completes an action plan focussed on improving some aspect of their performance.
Total60 - 90

Action plan for personal development

Reserve time to allow (require) each teammate to prepare an action plan focussed on improving some aspect of their performance in relation to their future work with the team (Deacon Carr et al.). The action plan developed by each student includes

  • Summary of feedback received from teammates, including strengths and areas for development
  • Behaviours the student most wants to improve. Why? What’s the payoff?
  • What obstacles stand in the way?
  • What specific things will be undertaken to improve? When?
  • How and when will success be measured?

Ideally, each student’s action plan is countersigned by their teammates and copied to the teacher. As each team continues its work together, they can undertake a process review towards the end of each meeting helping to ensure progress towards fulfilling the actions planned.

Evidence for a reflective essay

Some teachers assign a reflective essay as part of the academic programme’s assessment schedule. Consequently, suggest that the personal feedback report, action plan and subsequent outcomes are elements that students should include as appendixes of supporting evidence for their reflective discussion. Specifically, the students can reflect upon their self-development, intended and achieved, prior and subsequent to the peer feedback events.

Respond to teacher’s feedback

If the survey platform provided the opportunity to give you, the teacher feedback about the classwork and group assignment, it’s important to practice what you preach. Acknowledge and thank students for their feedback. Indicate the options you are considering for either immediate implementation, or implementation in a later stage of the academic programme.

Improve weak teamwork capabilities

Raise the overall performance of your class by focussing on specific interventions to improve the teamwork capabilities identified as weaker than most. For example, the bar chart of average class capabilities in Figure 8.1 suggests you should focus on improving your students’ capabilities related to Chairmanship and Encouraging the contribution of others, and, to a lesser extent, Listening to and welcoming the contributions of others. The definition of these factors derived from the survey rubric is presented in Figure 3.2.

Figure 8.1 Discuss opportunities to improve class teamwork capabilities

Resolve student protests

Worst-case scenario – A response to shock horror and denial

A student may find their self-assessment differs markedly from the peer assessment score awarded by their teammates. Namely, they expected a higher peer assessed score and personal result.

A ‘shock horror’ reaction is likely to be heralded by the student receiving a low Index of Realistic Self-Assessment (IRSA), that is, an IRSA below 70. Similarly, the factors presented in the spider chart comparing their self-assessments will mismatch the ratings assessed by their teammates. These matters were explained in Step 5 – Overconfident outlier self-assessments.

Help a student understand and resolve their outlier self-assessment using these steps.

  • Examine a student’s personal feedback report to review the peer assessments provided by each teammate, and their qualitative feedback. For example, perhaps one or more extreme peer assessments have affected negatively the result. You can explore that possibility with the teammate concerned. However, if most teammates’ qualitative feedback appears to support the quantitative peer assessments, then that provides the teacher with justification to leave the peer assessment unchanged.
  • Show empathy with the student’s feelings of shock when you meet with the student,. Reassure the student you will conduct a comprehensive review of the personal feedback reports of all members of the team. Outline the steps you will undertake to review, evaluate, and if necessary adjust the peer assessment, but only if warranted after all steps of your investigation are complete.
  • Ensure the student understands how the personal results are calculated. Discuss how the qualitative feedback might give clues about why the quantitative ratings were received, and what actions should be taken in the future. If the qualitative feedback is superficial or incomprehensible, then proceed to the next step.
  • The student should meet with their teammates to ensure they fully understand WHY they received the ratings and feedback. The focus of the meeting must be to understand the feedback and clarify accurately what actions the student must undertake in the team’s future work to achieve a better peer assessment. The student might request the teacher’s attendance at this meeting as a meeting observer or facilitator ‘to keep the peace’. Before undertaking the meeting with their teammates, the student should review the guidelines for asking for feedback, Table 8.1.
  • If there remains a dispute between the student’s self-assessment and the team’s assessment, the teacher MAY optionally request that one or more of the teammates resubmit their peer assessment.
  • The student should present you with evidence of the work they agreed to complete, their record of attending meetings, the work they produced, and relevant communications between teammates expressing their satisfaction or otherwise of the contributions to team outputs and/or teamwork processes. No evidence – no dispute.

As a last resort, if the student continues to dispute the peer assessment and/or personal result they may pursue the institution’s academic policy for appealing an assessment result. This policy is usually referenced in the programme syllabus, assignment specification, programme overview, and/or learning management system.

You might counsel the student “without prejudice” that their appeal is unlikely to succeed if ANY of the conditions presented in the later section Appeals against a peer assessment result apply.

Manual override of a student’s personal result

In the very rare case that the teacher makes an ‘off the book’ adjustment to the student’s personal result, that is an example of effecting Academic Policy 2 Flexible calculation.
Personal results advised to a student from a teammate peer assessment calculation are advisory. The teacher will use peer assessment results as one basis for their final award of a grade for the assignment or programme.

Appeals against a peer assessment result

A student’s official appeal against a peer assessment result is unlikely to succeed when the teacher can present evidence that one or more of the following circumstances have prevailed

  • The teacher conducted a formative peer assessment before the concluding summative assessment. When the teacher has conducted a formative teammate peer assessment the student received the opportunity to understand how the peer assessment process would affect their personal result. Further, the student had the opportunity to discuss with the teacher and their teammates what adjustments to their behaviour were required to achieve a better result from the summative peer assessment. The student has no chance to attempt Pascale’s Wager, “I didn’t understand!”
  • There is strong consistency between the qualitative feedback, developmental feedback and the quantitative peer ratings that comprise the personal feedback report in both the formative and summative personal feedback reports. The principle “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got”, does not apply when the teacher applies the policies and practice of teammate peer assessment and feedback announced to students in Step 1 – Prepare, and reiterated in Step 2 Build teams and Step 3 – Train.
  • The student failed to pursue in a timely and effective manner the available steps to address their perception of an unfair result. Students are expected to address promptly their concerns when they receive their peer assessment results. They should delay action until receiving the final grade. Institutions typically require a student’s concerns over an assessment grade to be addressed through formal channels within seven to ten days of results being made available.
  • The formative peer assessment across the entire team was of low quality AND the team result awarded by the teacher is low. A low quality peer assessment by the entire team is evidenced where everyone rated each other highly and/or or over a narrow range, as illustrated Figure 7.1. This is self-inflicted injury on behalf of the entire team for failing to take productive advantage of the peer assessment process as a means to improve their team-work processes.
  • The student has received poor peer assessment results from other classes and/or teachers. This is additional evidence the student has responded unproductively to previous peer assessment events. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get…”
  • The student has attempted to coerce their teammates into awarding a favorable rating. An act of coercion is generally regarded by the institution as academic dishonesty, bullying and/or harassment. The institution will have vigorous policies that prosecute seriously these behaviours. The consequences can range from a failure for the assignment or the academic programme, through to exclusion from the academic programme or expulsion from the institution.

Finalise results

To establish a set of final, official results you lock, freeze, or finalise the survey so that no more survey responses will be accepted from students AND your results can no longer be adjusted.

Tidy loose ends
As students review their personal feedback reports, you may discover the need to make small, final adjustments. For example, a student may have been allocated to a team but, in fact, never contributed to any extent. You may wish to reallocate this student to a ‘team of one’ for the purposes of your gradebook. Also, you may request a team or student to resubmit a survey in response to issues identified during your quality assurance review. Finally, you may have made an update to your team results in response to a formal moderation process or feedback from students.

Only finalise the peer assessment process once all loose ends are resolved.

  • Lock the survey so that no further responses can be submitted by students
  • Lock the platform dashboard so no further adjustments can be made by the teacher to the team results and method of personal result calculation
  • Publish the final version of results to students
  • Export a version of the final gradebook results to your institution’s gradebook system and your personal records.
  • Prepare tables, charts and datasets in preparation for identifying improvements to the next cycle of your group assignment and teammate peer assessment, Step 7 – Improve the next cycle, Chapter 9.

How Peer Assess Pro helps

Table 8.3 How Peer Assess Pro helps courageous conversations and survey finalisation

Active warningsA well-structured interface that identifies and enables proactive action by the teacher on the most important matters pertinent to their management of the survey.
Class strengths and weaknessesIdentifies the weakest teamwork capability factors that could be addressed by just-in-time coaching.
At risk and unacceptable ratingsEasy identification of unacceptable rating behaviour by teams and individuals. Identified behaviours include lazy raters, conspiratorial teams, outlier raters, at risk students, and unrealistic self-assessments.
Teacher feedbackStudents may provide the teacher with anonymous feedback about concerns or suggestions about the conduct of peer assessment, group work, or the class generally.
Results previewPreview and publish facility enables the teacher to calibrate the choice of method for calculating the personal result from team result and peer assessed score, before making the decision to publish and finalise the results for students’ view.
Quick probeThe teacher can quickly investigate the feedback reports for an individual team and its teammates to review the peer assessed scores given and received, and to confirm the qualitative feedback corroborates the peer assessed ratings.
Resubmission requestThe platform generates a pro-forma request for the teacher to notify specific students to resubmit the survey and/or extend the qualitative justification of the peer assessment ratings given.
Valid assessed teamsFeedback results are hidden from both the teacher and teammates until a team qualifies as valid. For teams of 5 or less at least 3 responses must be received to be valid.
Results notificationStudents are automatically notified about the availability of their final results. Guidance provided on how to interpret feedback and improve future results.
Gradebook and dataset downloadComprehensive set of download options of results enables convenient import to gradebook system and bespoke education analytics.
FinalisationThe survey may be locked permanently to forbid further survey responses and adjustments to students’ results.
Survey history logPermanent track-and-trace survey history log of actions taken by the platform, and notifications communicated to students and teacher. Reduces risk of dispute by students about whether they received survey requests, feedback, and results.
© Peer Assess Pro Ltd
PREVIOUS: STEP 5 — Manage the peer assessment NEXT: STEP 7 — Improve the next cycleReturn to top of page