University of Strathclyde

Overview

Summary


The fourth year CPE students spend the second semester on a project.  Working in groups of 5 or 6 students, they have to design a chemical plant and produce a report.  Each group is supervised by an academic, who meets the group every week and makes sure that the group is progressing.  At the end of the project the students receive an individual mark assigned by their supervisor.  To enhance the group work experience, peer evaluation was introduced.  The peer evaluation had to be submitted half-way through the project.  The results and the peers’ comments were reported to each student, in an anonymous way, so that each student could reflet on the peers’ comments and improve their own performance.  As this was a trial run, the peer assessment had no weight on the final mark given to each student.

Context

Department of Chemical and Process Engineering

Faculty of Engineering

Contact Details

Dr Cristina Mio

http://www.strath.ac.uk/staff/miocristinadr/

Themes

Themes

Rationale

Group work is an opportunity for the students to learn to work as a team.  To be successful in this, the students need to reflect on how they contribute to the group progress.  Their perception of their own performance might sometimes by different from that of their peers.  The peer evaluation was performed half-way through the project so that the students could modify their behaviour, if they thought it was necessary after reading the peers’ comments.  The peers’ feedback and comments were available also to the supervisor, so s/he could find out if there were any issues that needed to be resolved within the group.

Successes

The students liked to be able to have a say on how the other group members were performing, and they also liked to receive constructive criticism.  The students have commented that they have tried to improve their performance after they received the feedback, and in most cases, they agreed with the comments received. 

The staff thought that the students carried out this activity in a very mature and professional way, and they thought that it was a valuable experience for the students.  The staff also used the peers’ evaluation as a check of their own impressions of how the individual students were performing in the group.

Lessons Learnt

It is advisable for the staff to read and possibly edit the feedback comments before releasing them to the students.  The experience was very positive, but it was time consuming for the staff to collate the students’ comments.  I am looking into automating the submissions and circulation of peer assessement scores and comments, using WebPA and MyPlace. 

The same peer evaluation exercise could be repeated at the end of the project, and could be used to assign a certain portion of the final mark to give a more fair and accurate grade that includes groupwork collaboration.

Challenges

The aim and importance of this activity must be made clear to the students, so they can use is effectively.  As said above, it is time consuming for the staff to collate the students’ comments, and this needs to be automated to implement the initiative successfully. 

Scalability

This activity can be used for large class sizes, as long as the peers’ marks and comments are uploaded and collated automatically.

Suggestions for Transferability

This initiative can be used in any group work activity.

Attachments

The peer evaluation form used can be found in :“Toward Fairness in Assessing Student Groupwork: A Protocol for Peer Evaluation of Individual Contributions” Martin Fellenz  (Journal of Management Education; August 2006 vol. 30 no. 4 570-591)  (attached to the email)

Files attached: “Group peer evaluation form”, “Peer assessment supervisors”