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L.K. Chan1, P. Hodgson2

1The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HONG KONG)
2City University of Hong Kong (HONG KONG)
One common type of assessment in undergraduate courses in Hong Kong is a group project, which often involves a group presentation in addition to a written group report. The advantages of having students engage in a group project include learning via peer collaboration and allowing individuals to develop communication skills through interaction with group members. During oral presentations, peer assessment can be a valuable learning opportunity, because student reviewers are required to exercise evaluative skills in assessing the presenting groups. Although many research papers have reported on the significance of peer assessment in enhancing student learning and the reliability of peer assessment compared with self-assessment, the standard of peer assessment and the quality of feedback are frequently not reported. This paper will first examine perceived group performance from the point of view of individual students; it will then explore whether the tendency is for students to provide positive or negative comments and how frequently they make suggestions; finally, it will examine the categories of comment to identify the perceived variables that students address when assessing group projects.

This paper reports a study on an undergraduate course, ‘Garment Manufacture’, in a university in Hong Kong. Among the intended learning outcomes for the course, students were expected to develop professional knowledge in identifying the common causes of garment make-up problems and determine remedial processes. Simulating industrial practice, one assessment task was a problem-based analytical group project in which each team was required to make up a garment, explain the nature and causes of problems, and make suggestions on the correct manufacturing steps to take in order to avoid producing similar defects. All groups used PowerPoint as their presentation aid. Each student was given a peer feedback form on which to provide an overall grade, qualitative feedback to assist each group to improve their explanatory skills, and other optional comments.

Hong Kong students are competitive in university study and may be reluctant to provide quality feedback to peers. Therefore, the authors wanted to examine the quality of student peer feedback on group projects. This feedback was graded by one of the authors, as this might encourage students to make a good effort in providing the feedback professionally. With 97 students in the cohort, feedback forms were selected from the top, middle and bottom 10 percent of students, based on overall academic performance, which included tutorial discussions, group projects, class assignments and sit-in examinations. Student names were removed from the selected feedback forms and were coded by the second author, who had no teaching role in this course. Feedback was first coded in terms of whether it was positive, negative or suggestive; it was then coded according to the nature of the feedback content, presentation aids (visual and layout), presentation skills and group collaboration. In the paper, feedback quality is critically reviewed, and recommendations are made to improve the standard of peer group feedback.