Friday, August 30, 2013

Psychology of peer evaluation for group work effort online

Wouldn’t that title be a good title for a research paper? Hmm. (Note to self.) If you are designing or teaching a strictly online distance course, no doubt you have thought about group work.
I personally like some amount of group work especially in the more senior courses. But how do you combat the age-old aspect of social loafing that can affect group work activities? That’s where peer evaluation can come in. You’ve seen it before. Basically, you ask learners to fill in an evaluation form at the end of the group work activities, which asks them to evaluate themselves and their team-mates on how much effort they put forward. These evaluations can either contribute to an individual's grade component of the group project grade, or the instructor can use the results to ‘modify’ an individual's participation grade in the course.

It generally seems to work at the practical level; however, some people wonder how effective it is? Questions are raised such as “Does this evaluation provide enough incentive for learners to give their best effort?”, “What is the optimal balance in the relative weights of the peer evaluation vs the group project itself?”, “Will learners ignore the evaluation and just give everyone 10/10 due to guilt or other emotional factors?”, “Should learners be advised of the peer evaluation grades issued by their team-mates? If so, in what amount of detail?”, etc.

What do you think about these questions? Do you have other questions to ask on the subject? Do you have any answers to these questions based on your experience? Click the "comments" link below to share your ideas. #tomooc

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