Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Online peer-assessment in a large first-year class

In the context of widening participation, large classes and increased diversity, assessment of student learning is becoming increasingly problematic in that providing formative feedback aimed at developing student writing proves to be particularly laborious. Although the potential value of peer assessment has been well documented in the literature, the associated administrative burden, also in relation to managing anonymity and intellectual ownership, makes this option less attractive, particularly in large classes. A potential solution involves the use of information and communication technologies to automate the logistics associated with peer assessment in a time-efficient way. However, uptake of such systems in the higher education community is limited, and research in this area is only beginning. This case study reports on the use of the Moodle Workshop module for formative peer assessment of students’ individual work in a first-year introductory macro-economics class of over 800 students. Data were collected through an end-of-course evaluation survey of students. The study found that using the feature-rich Workshop module not only addressed many of the practical challenges associated with paper-based peer assessments, but also provided a range of additional options for enhancing validity and reliability of peer assessments that would not be possible with paper-based systems.

Markus Mostert and Jen D. Snowball (2012): Where angels fear to tread: online peer-assessment in a large first-year class, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, doi:10.1080/02602938.2012.683770

Commentary: I'm still looking for a good online peer assessment system which gets around all the problems (administrative load, consortia formation, infantile squabbles, etc). Sadly, this isn't it.

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