Diverse assessment methods in group work settings

Tim Langrish, Howard See


The assessment scheme and mid-course feedback play a central role in the student's learning experience. However, within the student population there are many different perceptions of teaching and learning, and to accommodate these a diverse range of assessment and feedback activites are required. This issue is particularly important when group-orientated problem-based learning is employed, since much of the learning occurs within the groups and away from the direct supervision of the unit coordinators. We have explored a range of assessment styles in a suite of units of study in second year chemical engineering, centred around group-based project work. Group written project reports, interviews, confidential self and peer-assessments, individual laboratory reports, quizzes and a final examination have been used so far. Alignment of these assessments and teaching & learning activities with the learning outcomes guided our development of this framework, and this alignment has been verified by the students' results. The projects themselves are open-ended and present realistic engineering scenarios, including recommending the best type of artificial heart, the overall design of a desalination plant, and the design of a soap and cosmetics factory. A high level of student engagement and enthusiasm for the project work has been observed, arising mainly from the real-world nature of the projects, coupled with the stimuli provided by the range of assessment activities used.

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