How can I generate a peer group assessment and feedback sessions that guarantees full group participation where I don't feel as though I am treating them as children?
University mission statements and directives point to a preference for student outcomes where students can demonstrate being self critical, creative, lifelong learners.
Initiating strategies for large groups of students; for instance, with peer group assessment and feedback as a method for students to develop the skill of being reflective and critical about their work and their peers, has proved difficult because students chat among themselves or group up in friendly mutual benefit assessment sessions. In response to student requests this lecturer has designed and introduced forms that focuses student attention on fulfilling the assessment and feedback task. This strategy works in getting the students to stay on task. But - No forms; no attention. Furthermore, the lecturer is unhappy with this form of intervention as it does not align with supporting and encouraging self directed learners.
This paper is based on an inquiry into a dilemma where the lecturer's expectations of student participation does not align with stated student needs and requests. The paper and presentation will present the dilemma as a series of questions with the intention of stimulating discussion and ideally throwing new light on the issues for the writer and other educators.
The yearly increase in student numbers to the School has meant student lecturer ratios have increased from one to fifteen to an average of one to twenty (final year Specialism students) over a six year period. Furthermore, not only have the numbers increased but the time allocated to teach the students has decreased. In 1998 this lecturer was confronted with the task of teaching 42 students in half the time allocated in the previous year. Clearly, even the most recently explored and implemented modes of delivery were not going to work. The solution was to design a session which relied on student participation/interaction (by default) to get the job done. Consequently, the lecturer decided to deliver common information via a lecture and have individual student feedback occur within show and tell, group work sessions. Hence, group work became the environment to ensure students received individual attention through peer feedback and peer assessment during the process of the project.
Moreover, as the weeks passed the lecturer observed and noted the pattern of activity within the tutorial session. There was the general hum of discussion, some groups were very engaged in the process, others completed the task quickly while one out of the eight groups were evidently not engaged. The lecturer, in the role of a facilitator did encourage participation but did not take the position of enforcing it. Policing and enforcing participation did not align with her commitment and support of student driven learning, In other words she believed the students were mature enough to make their own choices to what level they were prepared to participate.
Lecturer encouragement took the form of entering and speaking with the group. For example; if a group finished early, the lecturer would inquire into the outcomes of the individual assessment and feedback, sometimes the lecturer intervention would spur further discussion within the group, while other times it was evident that the group was complete with the discussion. With regard to a group that was not engaged, the lecturer would remind them of the ground rule to participate fully in group work and ask why they were resisting participation, often the answer was because they had not completed the work, therefore there was nothing to feedback on. The lecturer was happy with the balance between student participation/interaction and lecturer facilitation/intervention.
In response to the request the lecturer pre determined the groups, once the session had begun the lecturer would time each activity ensuring enough time was allocated for each item stated on the focus sheet. The outcome was very positive the students participated enthusiastically in the activities and assessed their peers freely as they did not feel the same obligation to assess acquaintances (as opposed to friends) as highly.
Yes, the process was a great success, but for the lecturer it did not align with her expectations of student independence and self directed learning. In fact the lecturer felt she was treating the students as a group of school children, dictating the activities and policing the outcomes. The dilemma spurred a series of questions for the lecturer, these questions will be the focus of discussion for the presentation
Does the lecturer intervene or not? If they do, how much and what are the best methods of intervention?
Was it simply this group's dynamic, and other groups may not need as much intervention?
Does it matter how the learning environment is structured as long as it works for the group and has positive outcomes?
|Please cite as: Barlowe, C. (1999). A dilemma within peer group assessment. In K. Martin, N. Stanley and N. Davison (Eds), Teaching in the Disciplines/ Learning in Context, 24-27. Proceedings of the 8th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, The University of Western Australia, February 1999. Perth: UWA. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf1999/barlowe.html|