Thesis (Ph.D)

Towards a pragmatic and evidence-based approach to the assessment of group work in undergraduate courses: an action research study


This action research study focuses on students' perceptions of group work and its assessment. The research records a four-year study involving 729 first, second and third year undergraduate students. Having started with an exploration into students' perceptions of group work, it identified social loafing as students' key concern, explored ways to alleviate the problem, presented students with a range of options and ended with an examination of students' perceptions of the formative and summative peer assessment process they chose to implement. Research was undertaken using a mixed model design referred to as "intramethod mixing" by Johnson and Turner (2003, p. 298). This involved the concurrent and sequential use of a single method (questionnaires) that included both qualitative and quantitative components. As a result of the research a pragmatic and evidence-based approach to the assessment of group work on undergraduate courses is suggested. Also six overarching themes emerged: • Group work as a social activity that can foster the development of a community of practice. • Students' lack of knowledge of how to work in groups and need for relevant training. • Students' dislike of receiving one group mark for group work. • Tension between fairness, transparency and validity when peers summatively assess peers' contribution to group work. • The role of formative peer assessment (which should remain anonymous) in assessment as learning. • Tension between the delegation of control over the assessment process and the tutor's role as assessor.

Attached files


McAuley, T

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
School of Education


Year: 2009

© McAuley, T
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