University College Dublin (IRELAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 2368-2372
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The use of peer assessment (PA) with well described assessment rubrics to grade group projects will allow for grading of the product and the process, leading to a fairer grade from the students’ perspective as each student will be awarded an individual grade as opposed to a group grade. PA can be a useful assessment strategy in an undergraduate Veterinary Medicine curriculum where students are in general high achievers. Group work can lead to tensions as students strive to achieve the highest mark possible and tend to feel hampered in this attempt by other group members.

WebPA is a computer-based tool that can be used to automate and promote the process of self and peer assessment. The product was used for two modules in the fourth year of the Veterinary Medicine degree in University College Dublin. Students were assigned to 12 groups of 10 students and all groups were given a different group project to complete, which was assessed and awarded an overall grade by the module coordinator.

Following completion of the group project, a simple PA matrix was introduced to the students which had to be completed online. The components of the matrix were: cooperation, communication, organisation and contribution, all to be scored on a Likert scale. WebPA was set up so that students could not see the feedback from their peers, as such creating a safe environment where they could be honest in their assessment. The weighting of the PA was set at 25%. Students were penalised by 10% overall group project grade if they failed complete the PA form. In the first semester students were prompted to fill in the assessment form and got one reminder email towards the end of the semester. In the second semester the system was open for two weeks after the submission of the group projects and students were again alerted and warned about the deadline via email.

Out of 120 students, five students were penalised for non-compliance in the first semester module and 19 in the second semester module, which was a reflection of the shorter window in which the students could fill in the online forms. In the first semester the use of WebPA changed the group project grades awarded to the group as a whole by one or two percentage points for the individual students in 42% (n=51) of the students, with 25% (n=13) of the changed grades leading to a lower overall grade for these students, while the remainder got a higher grade. In the second semester these numbers were similar with 53 students (45%) having a changed grade out of which 16 (30%) received a lower grade.

Overall the use of an online assessment tool like WebPA was welcomed as a fast, efficient and easy to use tool that was perceived positively by the students as they felt they had more responsibility as well as ownership of their group project marks.
Peer assessment, group project, online.