This introductory course in cellular biology lasted 12 weeks and was aimed at first-year bachelor students intending to become healthcare professionals. There was a high diversity among the approximately 550 students in terms of ethnic and social background, however about three quarters of the students were 17-18 years of age. Group Member Evaluation was used to support within-group feedback to peers, in the context of a project to construct and present a poster about a researcher or healthcare professional.
The instructor started using Group Member Evaluation to create more efficiency with the feedback process in this large student cohort, and to save time and cost over manually processing feedback.
• Students can work as effective communicators and collaborators, working in and leading teams with diverse peers, colleagues, and clients.
In addition to various other activities, students work in groups to produce and present on a poster relating to an academic or PhD student at the institution. With constructive feedback and feed forward in mind, learners are asked to reflect on and review the skills and performance of their group members (as well as self-reflect) over the course of the five to six weeks in which this project takes place. Rubric criteria upon which feedback is given, include reliability and punctuality in attending meetings, and showing respect to others’ contributions.
Students choose a rating for each criteria (with scores of 100, 75, and 50) to quantify the performance and contribution of their fellow group members during the project.
A self-to-peer assessment ratio is generated based on the ratio between self-scoring and peer-scoring and this is taken into account when calculating the final grade.
Learning activities based on the Bloom taxonomy, are mainly at the level of:
• Evaluate the skills of peers according to given criteria
• The scores peers gave to each other using Group Member Evaluation accounted for 15% of the overall grade of the course.
• Students were more engaged in the feedback process. The number of students who needed chasing up was significantly reduced compared with previously.
• The instructor noted that in previous iterations of this course, an immense amount of time was invested in processing feedback forms from every individual student. By comparison, now every student’s feedback and progress throughout the assignment can be viewed in one interface, saving time, resources, and paperwork.
• In a diverse student population, anonymising feedback through Group Member Evaluation worked well to help students give fair and unbiased feedback.
"Group Member Evaluation was a great tool for a large cohort, it was easy both to manage and set up."
• The instructor created the activity just before the course commenced. They included instructions within the activity indicating the rubric criteria upon which feedback should be given.
• After students got started with the feedback process, the instructor used the student overview within the tool to gain insight into group dynamics and checked if there were students who have fallen behind.
• The main benefit of using Group Member Evaluation in this instance was the time saved over the traditional pen-and-paper method.
• Furthermore, the ability to overview students’ progress within the interface made it easier to manage the large amount of feedback from this group.
Should you wish to incentivise students to write more qualitative feedback next to quantitative feedback, you could require students to leave a minimum amount of comments when setting up your feedback criteria. This will prompt the students to elaborate on their feedback score with one or more required comments, for which points can also be awarded.
In addition, adding a self-reflection module to the activity can help students to process feedback in greater depth, and give the instructor more insight into how students have found the activity.