198 paper

Iterative learning: Self and peer assessment of
group work

Mark Freeman, Diane Hutchinson, Lesley Treleaven, Chris Sykes
Faculty of Economics and Business
The University of Sydney

Group work is commonly used to help students learn and develop team skills. However, many students report having poor experiences of assessable group work. While self and peer assessment can be used to reward student contributions more equitably in assessment contexts, careful design and support issues need addressing to ensure its success. This paper reports a social constructivist approach to assessing and improving group work. First, the literature linking summative and formative assessment with group work is reviewed. The importance of formative assessment in developing shared understandings between academics and students of the assessment criteria, in particular through self and peer ratings on criteria related to their group work contributions, is discussed. Second, findings from a pilot study, employing an online tool (SPARK) to enable collection and aggregation of self and peer ratings, are presented. Two cycles of data analysis, interpretation and reflections generate what we term iterative learning. Third, when carefully integrated, SPARK facilitates not only individual and groups of students to learn but also affords opportunities for academics to learn and refine assessment that increases student engagement. This paper will be useful for academics and academic developers seeking to support improved group work learning and assessment activities.

Keywords: formative assessment, group work, team work, self and peer assessment, SPARK, free riding, team skills, feedback