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Peer Assessment in Group Work

As someone who prefers to learn independently, it took me a very long time to endorse and apply collaborative learning activities among students, especially in writing courses. When finally doing so, I learned a whole lot from trial and error about how to allow students to work to achieve far better results together than they would alone. 
Assessing performance in group work is a challenge that keeps many instructors from having students work together. As I looked into best practices recommended for self and peer assessments, I found a very helpful resource. The Guide to Peer-Assessment (Wride, 2017) provided me with great reminders from the University of Dublin Trinity College on why to emphasize teamwork and how to make it effective among students . Wride says, "Peer assessment and the learning that emerges from it fit into social constructivist models of education (Carlile & Jordan, 2005). Therefore, the traditional individualistic concept of assessment needs to be re-addressed if student cooperation and collaboration are to be fostered."
What success have you had implementing collaborative learning? Please share best practices or resources to help us better help students collaborate in meeting learning objectives and later work requirements.


Ginger's picture

I love learning together and use lots of collaborative activities in my ESL classes, but I struggle to use them more in my HSED writing class. As best practices, I do prewriting activities in small and large group discussions to get the wheels turning and to get students engaged in the topic. I also have students work together to plan the flow/reasons/organization ideas for their writing assignments. I try to do some peer editing, but I never feel they get really good results. I'd be interested in hearing other collaborative activities you and others have learned through trial and error for the writing classroom.

Leecy's picture
One hundred

Ginger, thanks for sharing good practices in collaborative learning. It sounds like your group prewriting activities would warm folks up for later writing. As some say, students don't write not because they can't but because they don't know anything about the topics we give them!

Here are a couple of practices that I have picked up from implementing successful group work.

  1. If its a class activity, time it. At first, students groan at that imposition, but later, they jump right in and start working.
  2. Be very specific about the outcome, especially if groups are editing together. Have them look for only one or two items at a time. Ignore all other mistakes. Once the items are identified, they can work together on improving the writing. Once the time is up, each group/pair shares what it learned.
  3. Be very clear on how you are going to grade. Sometimes, I grade the whole group for the outcome, regardless of how much each person contributes. They can then talk about how they feel about that. That's the work model. Bosses at work often don't care who does what on a task. They just want the task completed well and on time! Sometimes, I grade by individual input. In that case, group members would be given roles and I would observe the process. Sometimes, I don't grade at all and just watch the results. 

I now that others who are reading here have more ideas. Let's hear them! Leecy