Peer pressure and performance: meaningful team work

Shaun Roman, Eileen McLaughlin


‘sharing the excitement of biology’. The report also encourages group projects and the use of current research problems. We have incorporated all these aspects into an intense course operating in the final year of our biotechnology degree. Our course is the last teaching Biotechnology students are exposed to, prior to their entering a work placement program. The goal of the course is to round off their degrees and utilize the generic skills they have acquired in a team exercise. The course is a full course but is scheduled for 5 weeks at the start of second semester. Thus it is an intense learning (and teaching) experience.

For the major assessment task the students are randomly placed in ‘companies’ and asked to address a problem. The problems are current biotechnological problems, predominantly in the area of reproduction. Each student has a unique role to play in the company, as well as participating in the team exercise. The intense learning experience rapidly builds teamwork. Peer pressure is seen in terms of meeting deadlines. A small peer evaluation component is used to help assess student contributions. Electronic feedback indicates that the course is well received. Students who make some contribution perform well and are aware of their contribution. There was a noticeably strong performance from students who had previously had completion issues.

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