Improve Team Effectiveness
Introducing peer assessment into your team projects will help your students work more effectively and efficiently. Specifically, the rates of social loafing, the bane of all team projects, have been demonstrated to diminish when a peer assessment component has been incorporated into team projects (Karau & Williams, 1993). In fact, if students know that their performance on a group project is going to be evaluated by their peers, studies found increased rates of group sharing, cooperation, and team performance (Erez, LePine, and Elms 2002).
Beyond overcoming social loafing
However, to maximise soft skill development, student teams must be managed actively throughout the duration of the project. Peer Assess Pro provides teachers with the tools and confidence they need to successfully manage and guide student teams at every stage.
Using the Peer Assess Pro toolkit at the beginning of the project, teachers work with students to lay the groundwork for creating effective teams. For example, you could discuss the 10 attributes of being a successful team member encouraging the class to create a common rubric for each of the 10 attributes. Consequently, when it comes time for the peer assessment, students are all using the same rubric from which to assess high, medium, and low performance. One example of a rubric is presented in Ohland et al., (2012).
Midpoint formative peer assessment
At the midpoint of the project, it is good practice to ensure students conduct a formative peer assessment to gauge how they are performing. Peer Assess Pro helps teachers easily identify potential ‘problem teams’ and students that may need instructor intervention. Catching problems early on can often mean the difference between an excellent project and one that goes completely off the rails. Our students find value in learning how to accept, respond to, and proactively seek feedback through viewing the TedX video presented by Heen.
At the project conclusion, it is also valuable to have a team debrief. Students bring their detailed peer feedback reports to class, using the reports in their groups to discuss, for example, what went well in the project, clarify feedback received, and explore the reasons for unexpectedly low or high peer assessments.
Developing self reflection
Another good practice is to require I a self-reflection essay as part of the final assessment. A self-reflection essay provides students an opportunity to engage positively with all feedback, developing a plan to improve their performance for their next project. Additionally, since students conduct self-assessments, Peer Assess Pro provides indexes to indicate when a student’s self-assessment and peer assessment differ markedly: students are particularly prone to the Lake Wobegon Effect, where all are above average! (Loughnan et al., 2011; White, 2012) This self-reflection and self-assessment provide further impetus for students to use the feedback received to change behaviour, improve their performance, and progress towards an Exceptionally Realistic Self-Image (‘ERSI: Exceptionally Realistic Self-Image’, n.d.; Haney, 1992).
Peer feedback improves team effectiveness. Studies demonstrate that repeated exposure to a peer evaluation system will yield ongoing effectiveness for students in groups. Specifically, students who have had prior exposure to a peer evaluation system will exhibit greater effectiveness in groups than students who have not had prior exposure to peer assessment (Brutus & Donia 2010).