Assessing individuals within groups: using peer and self-assessment

Students sitting on the grass outside Dolchevita at the University of ReadingUltimately when considering individual's contributions to a group task the only people who know what the respective group contributions have been are the members of the group themselves1. This means that group work naturally lends itself to peer and self-assessment. You could, for example, require students to keep a project logbook, blog or some form of portfolio that allows them to demonstrate (and reflect on) their individual performance within a group.

Peer-generated marks on the other hand could be used to create individual 'weighting factors', which could then be used to determine the proportion of the final product mark that you will award each student2,3. There are also various software options for generating these weightings (e.g. WebPA4 and SPARK5). However, human nature being what it is, some students are reluctant to 'tell tale' on freeloading peers , or may be too modest to state their own contribution, so what you end up with may not necessarily represent the true individual contributions of the group members.

It's also worth considering the way in which you collate peer-assessments. It can be done anonymously (which may reduce students' anxieties about assessing one another) or by open discussion (which allows students the opportunity to defend themselves). Whichever approach you decide to take will invariably depend on your knowledge of the students, the cohort size and the students' own experiences of group work and peer-assessment.

References

  1. Race, P. (2001). A Briefing on Self-, Peer- and Group-Assessment. Available at: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/detail/ourwork/assessment/assessment_series
  2. Falchikov, N. (2005). Improving Assessment Through Student Involvement: Practical Solutions for Aiding Learning in Higher and Further Education. Abingdon: RoutledgeFalmer.
  3. Lejk, M., Wyvill, M. & Farrow, S. (1996). A survey of methods for deriving individual grades from group assessments. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 21, 3, pp.267-280.
  4. http://www.webpaproject.com
  5. Freeman, M. & McKenzie, J. (2002). SPARK, a confidential web-based template for self- and peer-assessment of student teamwork: benefits of evaluating across different subject. British Journal of Educational Technology, 33, 5, pp.551-569.

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