Wandel, Andrew P. and Willey, Keith (2011) Peer review of teamwork for encouraging equal commitment to the group effort. In: AaeE 2011: Developing Engineers for Social Justice: Community Involvement, Ethics & Sustainability, 5-7 Dec 2011, Fremantle, Australia.
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An important graduate attribute is the ability to work in teams, so many university courses incorporate this as part of the learning experience. However, it is inevitable that in some teams there will be members who do not contribute as much to the overall effort as others, leading to frustration in those members who carry the majority of the burden. When there are students enrolled in distance-education mode, this can be exacerbated because many of the teams cannot meet face-to-face, so it can be difficult to exert sufficient influence to force problematic individuals to amend their behaviour. In an effort to mitigate against this problem, self and peer assessment was used for both team assignments in a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) course and the results of the peer assessment were used to scale the team mark for the corresponding assignment to obtain individual grades. After submitting their final assignment, a survey instrument was used to investigate the success of this process. The students overwhelmingly supported the idea of distributing marks based on the value of the individual’s contribution because in many teams it had the desired effect of motivating underperforming members to involve themselves more in the second assignment. There was some dissatisfaction about the process used to distribute marks, which the authors will attempt to address by providing better scaffolding in subsequent uses of the software tool. Regardless of these difficulties, we found that a transparent mechanism for distributing team marks to individual grades is beneficial for encouraging equal commitment to the team effort by all team members.
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