Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


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Publication Details

Thesis submitted to Technological University Dublin in fulfilment for the award of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), September 2021.


Assessment of learning is integral to all programmes in Higher Education (HE). While one purpose of assessment is to confirm achievement of standards, another is to support student learning. When educational programmes adopt an assessment strategy that is inclusive of ‘assessment for learning’ the role of assessment supporting learning can be expanded and sustained more effectively. Peer Assessment (PA) is an example of an assessment approach that can support and enrich student learning. The advantages and benefits of PA are strongly established in the published literature.

This research study aimed to investigate and develop a framework for the inclusion of Peer Assessment (PA) for Medical /Biomedical Science programmes in the Republic of Ireland (RoI). In order to achieve the research aim, a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of current practices with respect to assessment was necessary. This study utilised a mixed method approach that reports the experiences and opinions of students and staff with respect to assessment and PA, from the three Medical/Biomedical Science programmes. Student and staff questionnaires, staff interviews and documentation analysis comprised the methods and a phased sequential approach was adopted.

Analysis of the findings from the empirical data from this study, discussed in light of the literature analysis in the area of assessment and PA, led to the development of the Pragmatic Peer Assessment Framework (PPAF). As Irish medical science undergraduate education is formally regulated, it is proposed that there is a need for PA to be introduced in a measured and controlled manner, as my framework delineates. The findings from my study demonstrate that it is warranted that these programmes be more inclusive of ‘assessment for learning’ and the adoption of the PPAF is one way in which this can be achieved. The purpose of the PPAF is to provide a practical set of guidelines for educators in Medical/Biomedical Science to implement and embed formative learning strategies in their curricula that in turn enhance the educational experience for all learners.