Online self- and peer assessment for groupwork

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Education and Training, 2009, 51 (5), pp. 434 - 447
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Purpose - Group-based tasks or assignments, if well designed, can yield benefits for student employability and other important attribute developments. However there is a fundamental problem when all members of the group receive the same mark and feedback. Disregarding the quality and level of individual contributions can seriously undermine many of the educational benefits that groupwork can potentially provide. This paper aims to describe the authors' research and practical experiences of using self and peer assessment in an attempt to retain these benefits. Design/methodology/approach - Both authors separately used different paper-based methods of self and peer assessment and then used the same web-based assessment tool. Case studies of their use of the online tool are described in Business Faculty and Design School subjects. Student comments and tabular data from their self and peer assessment ratings were compared from the two Faculties. Findings - The value of anonymity when using the online system was found to be important for students. The automatic calculation of student ratings facilitated the self and peer assessment process for large classes in both design and business subjects. Students using the online system felt they were fairly treated in the assessment process as long as it was explained to them beforehand. Students exercised responsibility in the online ratings process by not over-using the lowest rating category. Student comments and analysis of ratings implied that a careful and reflective evaluation of their group engagement was achieved online compared with the paper-based examples quoted. Research limitations/implications - This was not a control group study as the subjects in business and design were different for both paper-based and online systems. Although the online system used was the same (SPARK), the group sizes, rating scales and self and peer assessment criteria were different in the design and business cases. Originality/value - The use of paper-based approaches to calculate a fair distribution of marks to individual group members was not viable for the reasons identified. The article shows that the online system is a very viable option, particularly in large student cohorts where students are unlikely to know one another. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
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