BA level research course on pharmaceutical sciences, combined analytical methods and theory:
How was Group Member Evaluation used?
Students can develop their teamwork and collaboration skills in an investigative group-work project
This learning objective was not directly measured as part of the assessment.
Step 1: Introduction and guideline
Students are introduced to their research problem, which is the subject of each group's investigation
Lectures are given to outline the technology and devices that will be used for analysis
Step 2: Weekly presentation
Groups give weekly presentations detailing the process of approaching, structuring, and addressing their problem
In these presentations, groups also share their findings with each other over the course of their project
Step 3: Final presentation
Groups deliver final presentations, which are graded
A lab journal is kept by each student to track their process and progress
The second unit in this course followed a similar trajectory, with the focus this time being more analytical on a specific set of tools.
The use of Group Member Evaluation
The tool was used in the middle of the two courses to give students space to give feedback to their group relating to their experience of the teamwork process:
A rubric was used with 5 levels and criteria covering problem-solving, focus/dedication, attitude, and communication. Space was left for any further comments.
Team-member anonymity was also enabled in order to try to give students a safe space for voicing concerns and critical comments.
Finally, after completing the feedback exercise, students were able to write a self-reflection, where they detailed what they had learned from the overall process.
theories and practice of analytical methods and procedures
methods to the carrying out of lab analysis
data and results gathered from procedures
own performance and contribution to the project, and that of group members
own methods of analysis
In this iteration of the course, teamwork and collaboration did not directly contribute towards the overall grade. Instead, the feedback exercises were used formatively to gain more insight into the group dynamics.
Student progress oversight: Compared to the previously-used method of collecting feedback on paper, now the instructor could follow individual and group progress throughout the activity, as well as see all ratings and comments in one place. This made it easier to keep oversight on group dynamics as well as individual learners’ performance and contributions.
Subsequent attempts at creating activities were found to be much easier, in part thanks to the “copy from existing” feature, which allows previous templates to be re-used and modified.
The instructor chose to enable anonymity but as the teams were fairly small and working closely with each other, some students felt as though the process wasn’t entirely anonymous, which may have had an effect on the depth of feedback given.
"After improvements were made, like the automatic synchronisation of groups, that was a real winner for me... in the end, [Group Member Evaluation] was a starting point for students to be able to improve their collaboration." - Dr. Frits Flesch, Utrecht University
Giving constructive critical feedback is not a skill inherent to all learners, or teachers. Consider preparing your students with the right information about how to give constructive and considerate feedback. This can help them to achieve deeper reflections about their own work, as well as that of their peers.
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