Making Groups Work: Identifying Group Work Problems via Peer Assessment in Higher Education
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In higher education, teamwork and collaboration are often part of the core educational experience. Yet, many students have negative associations or attitudes towards group projects. Problems such as social loafing and poor communication are very common when working in a group, but unfortunately teachers do not have enough time to monitor each group extensively. The goal of this research is to find a method that can identify group work problems as soon as possible via computer-supported assessment. Three qualitative research methods were used to reach this goal. First, seven interviews were held in order to get a clear view of the research context. The data of the interviews was triangulated with the literature review and valuable data was obtained for preliminary assessment design. Next, six basic visualizations and 15 advanced visualizations were sketched for assessing group issues. These were ranked in two focus groups according to motivational ability, preference, and suitability for five group work attributes: Quality of Cooperation, Quality of Contribution, Productivity, Reliability, and Friendliness. The top-ranked basic- and advanced visualizations were used to create two versions of a peer assessment survey. Students from a bachelor-level course were invited to submit two peer assessments throughout the course of their group projects. After the deadline of the project had passed, the students were invited to provide feedback on the peer assessment. The feedback survey showed that most participants had a positive experience with the peer assessment survey. No real differences were found between the basic- and advanced visualization versions of the survey in terms of effectiveness or reliability. Besides the students, all members of the teaching staff were very positive towards the peer assessment method. Therefore it can be concluded that the assessment method as described in this research has the potential to be useful for problem identification in group work in higher education.