THE USE OF GOOGLE DOCS IN CO-ASSESSMENT: AN EXPERIENCE IN SEVEN DEGREES OF THE COMPLUTENSE UNIVERSITY OF MADRID
In the present work, we present preliminary results of an innovation research project carried out during the last academic year in the Complutense University of Madrid. Three of the key concepts related to the teaching and learning process in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) have been included: evaluation, student’s active participation and the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education. Despite of the relevance of these three topics in the EHEA, university teachers face several difficulties when they try to apply them. Some of these problems are related to the lack of training about ICT’s applications in the teaching practice, as well as the lack of evaluation of these innovative practices.
Taking into account this starting point, our study aimed to combine these three topics in order to provide some insights into the new skills demanded in university teaching and learning. Specifically, we designed and applied ten different strategies of peer- assessment, using this interesting tool as an important element of our student’s learning process. All the experiences shared the use of the Web-based document management application Google Docs. Different implementations were applied in various Degrees: Social anthropology, Political Science, Sociology, Biology, Education, Medicine, and French Philology. Six faculty members designed different peer-evaluation experiences to be used by more than 300 Undergraduate, Graduate and Postgraduate students.
Peer-assessment practices were applied to student’s group oral presentations, debates, team work and research projects. Peer evaluations were always carried out using Google Docs. In every case, assessment was presented at the beginning of the course as an intrinsic part of the activity, explaining the evaluation criteria to be applied, the instruments and the relation of this assessment with the global score of the activity.
Assessment strategies applied in this research used different approaches:
i) individual / group evaluation;
ii) peer-assessment in the classroom / in a later time;
iii) public / private evaluation;
iv) assessment criteria using common Google documents / different documents for groups or subjects;
v) use of a rubric / another assessment instruments.
Overall, students showed a high level of involvement in the assessment tasks. However, involvement was higher when student’s participation was evaluated by the teachers. Also, students participated more in the experience when the evaluation was conducted in the classrooms. In these last cases, laptops or cell phones were used to access to Google Docs.
After this innovative experience, we conclude that assessment practices require some competences that should be taught and practiced in the classrooms, as a key component of the teaching and learning process. We actually found a high variability in our student’s motivation to assess their peer’s performance, different results in the coherence of the assessments and in the impact of students’ previous relationships.
Finally, teachers involved in this experience highly valued the heterogeneity and multidisciplinarity of the research group, and the big variability of evaluation methodologies applied. This initial experience allowed us to elaborate very different didactic materials which, in the future, may encourage other teachers to include peer-assessment as an interesting tool for university teaching within the EHEA.