Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Peer Evaluation in Blended Team Project-Based Learning: What Do Students Find Important?

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Peer Evaluation in Blended Team Project-Based Learning: What Do Students Find Important?

Article excerpt

Introduction

In recent years, there has been an increasing demand for the development of effective teaching methods and instructional strategies to improve the quality of university education. Most university Centers for Teaching and Learning (CTLs) have invested in program development to improve their teaching methods. Instructional design that facilitates student-student interaction is considered to be an effective strategy to maximize learning through active student participation, which nurtures various social competencies during academic knowledge building.

Team project-based learning is one of the most commonly used methods to activate interactions among students. Team project-based learning has been introduced and is increasingly used as a teaching and learning method in higher education to promote knowledge building through social interaction (Von Kotze & Cooper, 2000). The Korean National Human Resources Development Council, an organization devoted to cultivating creative human resources, reports that team project-based learning has attracted educators' attention as an alternative teaching method for both improving the quality of teaching and enhancing learning effectiveness in higher education through social learning (Jung, 2001). In addition, team project-based learning promotes higher learning skills including cooperative ability, critical reasoning, creative thinking, responsibility, and communication (Moursund, 2003). A social learning context thus promotes both students' social and cognitive learning. Team project-based learning allows students to engage in the practice of knowledge building through a process of social investigation in a meaningful context. Therefore, teamwork competencies including communication, leadership, collaboration, and interpersonal relations, can be acquired during team-based social activities rather than in lectures or in individualized tasks. Many reports have been published outlining the advantages of online (or blended) team-based learning, e.g., student participation and interaction (Pena-Perez, 2000), social knowledge building (Stahl, 2000; Gunawardena et al., 1997), and critical thinking in online learning (Bullen, 1998; Newman et al., 1995).

However, there are also noted disadvantages of this type of team-based learning. Social loafing is the phenomenon of people exerting less effort to achieve a goal when they work in a group than when they work alone (Karau & Williams, 1993). Its two common manifestations are (1) Free-rider effect, where some members do not put in their share of work under the assumption that others' efforts will cover their shortfall, and thus cause (2) Sucker effect, where the other (fully performing) members lower their efforts in response to the free-riders' attitude (Kerr & Bruun, 1983; Salomon & Globerson, 1987). This type of social laziness indicates that team-based learning does not guarantee effective interactions in the classroom. Additionally, instructors are often overloaded with tasks to provide prompt and timely feedback for students to lessen social laziness because providing enough feedback is very effort- intensive (Dunlap, 2005; Ertmer, et al., 2010). The negative side effects of team-based learning may be difficult to resolve because an instructor may not observe all the processes occurring within the student groups. Typically, instructors evaluate the quality of the final product without knowledge of the team work process.

Peer evaluation may be a good strategy to monitor the dynamics within the group. Peer evaluation is an effective way of allowing every student to participate in team-based learning and monitor the process, as well as the product, of team learning. Peer evaluation is useful in higher education contexts because it is also expected to decrease instructors' workloads (Ertmer et al., 2010). However, peer evaluation has not been used extensively due to instructors' perceptions that such evaluations lack credibility. …

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