Research: RM Compare, Peer Learning and Student Engagement in HE

RM Compare is the world leading Adaptive Comparative Judgement system. We are pleased to support researchers around the world completing important work.

In the evolving landscape of higher education, the quest for effective assessment and feedback strategies remains at the forefront of pedagogical innovation. A recent study by Claire Ellison at the University of Salford, Manchester, UK, sheds light on the transformative potential of Adaptive Comparative Judgement (ACJ) in enhancing peer learning and student engagement. This blog post delves into the key findings of Ellison's research, exploring how ACJ can revolutionize the feedback process and contribute to a more engaging and reflective learning environment.

The Challenge of Engagement with Feedback

Feedback is a critical component of the learning process, offering students valuable insights into their progress and areas for improvement. However, traditional feedback methods often fall short in engaging students effectively. Many students find feedback to be generic, lacking the specificity and quality needed to foster improvement. This disconnection not only hampers student progress but also poses challenges for educators striving to support student learning and achievement.

Introducing Adaptive Comparative Judgement

Adaptive Comparative Judgement (ACJ) emerges as a promising solution to these challenges. Unlike traditional assessment methods that rely on mark schemes or rubrics, ACJ involves marking work by making comparisons between pieces of work. This process not only facilitates a more nuanced understanding of quality and standards but also encourages students to engage more actively with the feedback process.

Key Findings from the Study

Ellison's study, conducted among a small cohort of students, reveals several positive outcomes associated with the integration of ACJ as a strategy for peer formative feedback. The findings highlight improved self-awareness and self-regulation among students, who reported being more active and engaged with formative feedback. This increased engagement was attributed to the access to examples of work and personalized feedback provided through online tools. One of the most compelling aspects of ACJ is its potential to foster a deeper level of self-reflection and critical thinking. Students participating in the study expressed a heightened sense of confidence in their work and a greater enjoyment of the learning process. The opportunity to compare their work with that of their peers not only enhanced their understanding of quality standards but also motivated them to seek feedback proactively and apply it constructively.

Overcoming Challenges and Looking Ahead

While the study underscores the benefits of ACJ in enhancing student engagement and peer learning, it also acknowledges the variability in student engagement and the importance of dedicated timetabled sessions to maximize its effectiveness. The research calls for further investigation into how increased engagement with feedback translates into improvements in the standard of work produced by students.


The findings from Ellison's study offer valuable insights into the potential of Adaptive Comparative Judgement to transform assessment and feedback practices in higher education. By fostering a more engaging, reflective, and collaborative learning environment, ACJ holds promise for enhancing student outcomes and supporting educators in their mission to facilitate meaningful learning experiences.

As we continue to explore innovative assessment strategies, the integration of ACJ into higher education curricula represents a significant step forward in our collective effort to improve educational outcomes and student success. Ellison's research provides a compelling case for the adoption of Adaptive Comparative Judgement in higher education settings. By prioritizing engagement, reflection, and peer learning, ACJ offers a path toward more effective and meaningful assessment practices.

As we strive to enhance the quality of education and support student achievement, embracing innovative approaches like ACJ will be crucial in navigating the challenges and opportunities of the 21st-century learning landscape. RM Compare will continue to be at the forefront of these efforts.


Ellison, C. (2023). 'Effects of adaptive comparative judgement on student engagement with peer formative feedback'. Practitioner Research In Higher Education, 15(1), pp. 24-35.