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TDP Summary - Peer Evaluation Project - Justin Ascott

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Assessment of group work on the BA Film & Moving Image Production (FMIP) course at Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) has been a problematic area in terms of accurately differentiating students’ engagement with group-based projects.  Group work occurs predominantly off-campus and it’s impractical to assess.  This blind spot has enabled a minority of low-engaging students to gain marks for work they have not sufficiently contributed to.  Reflective journal blogs, which have been used by the course team to adjust marks, have in some cases been manipulated by students to give the impression they have been more active than they were. The issue of assessment shortcomings has been compounded by a course policy of allowing students to self-select their production groups in the second year, onwards, which has led to cliques becoming entrenched – resulting in low engaging students collaborating together and reinforcing their negative learning traits.  

Peer evaluation was piloted in Unit BA6 (the third Unit of the second year) where these problems had been prevalent with six students within the cohort of thirty-two students. The intervention involved a two-part form to be completed by each student.  The first part required the student to reflect upon and answer five self-evaluation questions regarding her/his own performance within their production group.  This was constructively aligned to one of the Learning Outcomes – LO11 - and submitted on the hand-in date.  Each group subsequently attended a peer evaluation meeting to read each other’s  statements and agree on a group evaluation statement for each student, along with a suggested banding.  This would be used as a guide, by the course team during assessment.  The procedure was explained to students prior to the start of Unit BA6, to clarify misunderstandings.  At weekly group tutorials, issues relating to group work were discussed, and observational notes made.  At the start of the Unit the course team selected the production groups, to place low engaging students in with higher engaging students, to encourage the adoption of more positive learning attitudes.  The research undertaken was largely based on qualitative analysis of observational notes, and analysis of peer evaluation forms.  Quantitative analysis of attendance records taken from Unit BA6 and the two preceding Units was also incorporated, to look for improvements in attendance.

The intervention proved only partially successful in improving the attitude of the six low engaging students.  Only one improved his engagement level. This suggests that the causes of low engagement are more complex than simply laziness.  What those causes are, need to be identified through further research - however it’s likely each student will have her/his unique set of impediments, rather than there being one reductive cause. The intervention was however successful for students already engaging with the course - in providing a formal structure for reflection and discussion about group work issues. Quantitative analysis of attendance records showed a 20% increase in attendance, compared to the two preceding Units.  Furthermore, Information gained from the peer evaluation meetings has enabled more accurate assessment of each student. 

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