Category: Education

Group work, not only in education but also in the workplace, can promote learning via promoting talks and debate that in turn facilitate justification of resolution of agreements, ideas and agreement of new perspectives let see first how researchers will explain teamwork. According to Boud and Falchikov (2006) and Freeman and McKenzie (2002), a team is a small group of individuals with common performance goals, purpose and a framework for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. Nevertheless, according to Boud and Falchikov, (2006), student groups might not meet all the requirements of Freeman and McKenzie’s (2002) definition as a group. Other researchers have also defined teamwork as a joint action by a group of individuals, in which every member subordinates his or her opinions and interests to the effectiveness and unity within the group. According to Freeman and McKenzie (2002), this definition perhaps caters for student groups. However, it does not imply that a member is no longer significant, but it does imply that effectiveness and efficiency of group work goes beyond personal accomplishments. In addition, as proposed by Sergi (2007), the most effective teamwork occurs when all the involved people complement their contributions towards a common goal. In higher education, group work is often used as a tool to prepare the student for their later careers: it is a first step to enter into the real world of business and particularly in the hospitality world.

Instructors or faculty who regularly deploy teams or groups respectively commonly assign tasks or projects to teams outside of class. Distinguishing between teamwork and group work can substantially assist instructors in determining the effectiveness of peer assessment. This is because teamwork and group work include peer assessment and each has its own advantages and drawbacks. One of the most significant things that teachers need to know is the difference between working as part of a team or a group. The first difference is that members in a group tend to work independently, and they are frequently not working towards the same goal, whereas those in teams work interdependently towards both team and personal goals. In addition, members a team understand that the goals are accomplished best through their mutual support. Another difference is that in a group, members tend to focus mostly on their personal goals in contrast to the team, where members feel a sense of ownership towards their responsibility to the group.

It is also important to note that in order to realize the efficiency of peer assessment, teams or groups need to grow according to some stages. As such, overseas students will have to follow some steps in forming teams for accomplishing their educational responsibilities. Freeman and McKenzie (2002) separates the process of establishing an effective team into four stages: forming, storming, norming, and performing. During the forming part, team members vigilantly explore the limits for acceptable group behaviour. The members test the guidance of their leader and search for their position within the group. According to Boud and Falchikov (2006), it is usual for little progress to take place during this stage. The storming stage is perhaps the most difficult period for the group. At this point, students frequently become irritated about non progress of the work, though they are still new to study in this unknown team. Consequently, members might debate, time to time very strongly, about the tasks to take since they face unusual ideas that put them outside their comfort zones. Now personalities begin to point out from the team. During the Norming part, members accept the group and reconcile their differences among themselves. Emotional conflicts are restrained because students start to operate together. In addition, the team is able to focus on its work. Performing is the ending part, in which all the people have admitted the strengths and weaknesses of each other. During this stage, students are open to a lot of good ideas and are not afraid to afford all types of suggestions. Teams built based on these four stages are likely to experience the effectiveness of peer assessment. Earlier in 1965, Tuckman mentioned a fifth stage he named Adjourning. This appears when the work is over and the separation of the team will take place. This stage is not necessarily happening everywhere because the same team could be re-conducted during the studies.

Peer Assessment

According to Freeman and McKenzie (2002), peer assessment refers to a process whereby students or their peers grade assignments, tasks or tests according to the benchmark of the teacher or instructor. The practice is usually deployed to not only improve the students’ understanding of course material but also to save the teacher’s time as well as improve the student’s meta-cognitive skills. In this regard, Boud and Falchikov (2006) and Goldfinch and Raeside (1990) note that the current assessment model for higher education is strict in that students are very secluded from all stage and the exercise and possession of power is not equal. In concurrence with Sergi (2007), Freeman and McKenzie (2002) note that the prevailing assessment methods go against the development of autonomy and responsibility of the student. Boud and Falchikov (2006) also observe that the prevailing method used in assessing group works is unreliable since the correlations between markers and scores are low, leading to some academic injustices. Peer assessment is therefore viewed as one of the ways for dealing with these problems that are frequently linked to traditional assessment methods.

Peer assessment also encourages freedom and reflective learning, and less reliance toward the faculty. Students tend to think, to learn and become more critical because of contributing into the process of the assessment. Another benefit of this type of assessment, which is of a critical benefit in this research, is that it can be used as a tool for individualizing the grades of students in a collaborative context of learning. In this regard, the problems of unfairness or free-riding within the group can be moderated by rewarding students’ grades according to their individual contribution.

Peer Assessment of Group Work

In the group work learning context, having colleagues assessing one another’s contribution has been perceived to assist in overcoming the forms of problems typically found in group work. This is because students are in a place to evaluate their colleagues based on their individual input made that is often inaccessible to teachers or instructors. Nevertheless, it is precisely because of this reason that this method of assessment has been criticized by some studies as lacking in reliability. Research conducted by Boud and Falchikov (2006) and Sergi (2007) indicates that the use of multiple ratings can overcome the low-rate reliability. In another piece of research, Falchikov and Goldfinch (2000) also shows that transferring the assessment process to peers can be performed with a considerable level of reliability.

Various ways of differentiating the performance of members in a group or a team have been attempted by educators and researchers such as Freeman and McKenzie (2002). Freeman and McKenzie’s (2002) study involved each student submitting part of a group work and the faculty deliberating during group meetings upon personal contributions. Theoretically, in the context of group work, peer assessment allowed to evaluate honestly process and product of learning and precisely since it is only students who have the access to the activities of their group. Consequently, the students know contributions of every group member. Students can be asked to evaluate the works based on one of the two possible ways. The first one by asking the group to negotiate and discuss the contribution from every member of the group. According to Boud and Falchikov (2006) and Sergi (2007), this method can be a bit challenging if the students find it difficult to evaluate each other in public. The second alternative involves asking the group members to evaluate each other anonymously by deploying a pre-format assessment form. Nevertheless, Goldfinch and Raeside (1990) criticize this method by claiming that it lacks the openness provided by the first possibility. However, it overcomes the chances of bad feelings or the problem of students being anxious of offending their peers when evaluating their contribution.

Fairness in peer assessment               

Sergi (2007) also concurs with this claim by pointing out that a student’s contributions to a group project are not usually equal, yet every member receives a similar grade. A substantial number of students felt this is unfair; especially those who contributed a lot of effort, but the grades awarded did not meet their expectations. Hard working and capable students would be right to object to others, especially members who contributed little to the group project, disrupted their efforts and receive the equivalent grades as them. Students are well conscious that the worth of the contribution from each member has a substantial impact on the overall worth of the projects based on groups, and thus, needs to be incorporated in the evaluation stage. The core of the complaint from student is that only the completed group project, and not the process is usually assessed. In addition, in relation to hospitality students, managing the processes is a substantial part of projects based on groups and should therefore be a main component in the student learning. Hospitality students should not only learn how to control mechanical equipment and to cooperate with others, but they should also learn to work as a proficient part of the hospitality team that involves implementing professional hospitality practices. However, for many hospitality students, their comprehension of the process facets of group work is characteristically confined to its association with the project grade.

Students correctly fear that assessment of the process or individual contributions might not be accomplished fairly. Boud and Falchikov (2006) and Knight (2004) revealed that peer assessments, and other approaches of evaluating individual contributions were not often deployed. Teachers as well tend to be apprehensive concerning evaluating the process due to the augmented workload.  The existing assessment methods such as peer assessment might also be unreliable causing teachers to be more worried about evaluating the process. Goldfinch and Raeside (1990) realized that as much as peer assessment be a valuable approach for evaluating process, it cannot be a complete solution to the problem of inequity. When studying the self-assessment part of peer assessment, Freeman and McKenzie (2002) also agree with Sergi’s (2007) views by pointing out that hospitality students are likely to rate themselves more favourably than their peers rate them.

Since the majority of group work is completed outside the normal class time that makes it unverified, teachers have no mechanism of assessing the involvement and contribution of an individual student devoid of the information offered by peer assessment. In other words, according to Goldfinch and Raeside (1990), only the students are in a position to understand the involvement and contribution of their peers. As such, insight into the interrelationships of a group is essential if the teacher or the instructor is to attain equitable grading. Both students and teachers are aware that lazy or troublesome group members can negatively affect the worth of the group’s work. In addition, Falchikov and Magin (1997) also adds that teachers and students recognize that certain groups do not function effectively since group work is stressful. Therefore, if a determined student is unfortunate to be in a dysfunctional team or group, they might receive a very poor mark for the project and negative peer evaluation. These are the major drawbacks of having a one non-peer-assessed group project.

Existing Methods of Peer Assessment

Freeman and McKenzie (2002) and Sergi (2007) provide an appropriate summary of present marking methods deployed in assessing group work. They classify the groups into two distinct groups: those who do not evaluate the process at all and those, which distribute a single project grade equally among all members of a group or a team. Of the two types, the most prevalently deployed is where the group mark is equally distributed among members of a group, with no evaluation of individual contribution and participation. Students in higher education, are usually unreceptive to this assessment method. In his study, Boud and Falchikov (2006) encountered some students who preferred doing their own work.

There are various methods under the above two approaches, which it is important to explore. Sergi (2007) proposes one method in which the teacher constructs a group comprised of students who submit the assigned work autonomously. Despite the product of one student being reliant on the product of another student, there is an enormous degree of independence among them to facilitate individual assessments. In such cases, the expanse of honest group work is restricted. In reality, this does not appear as a group work, but appears as a study group. The extent of teamwork proficiencies assimilated by students involved in doing such work would be negligible. The aspect of honest group work, which carries a low mark, is additional for which hospitality students obtain a group mark, which is equally distributed, while the distinct components are evaluated individually. The overall grade awarded to a person is the summation of the individual mark and group mark. In this technique, the faculty has to guarantee that the specific tasks are equally demanding and complex, though according to Boud and Falchikov (2006), this might not always be conceivable. As such, Freeman and McKenzie (2002) point out that any perceived unfairness in the intricacy of individual tasks can result in friction among group members.

Freeman and McKenzie (2002) identified another peer assessment method known as the “Distribution of a Pool of Marks.” In this method, every member of the group obtains a single group mark that is multiplied by the sum of group members. For instance, 50 (group mark) ×5 (sum of group members) = 250 (pool of marks). The pool of marks is awarded to the group for distribution among themselves, usually done in an open group state. Similarly, individual members of the group might distribute the marks in private situation and the teacher then totals the outcomes and performs the averaging on them. However, according to Boud and Falchikov (2006), this method of peer assessment might cause some friction between members of a group if marks are awarded in an open group scenario. This is perhaps because some group members might claim that they earned a higher mark than their colleagues in the same group. Alternatively, students might decide divide the marks correspondingly due to peer pressure, therefore making the assessment futile. According to Freeman and McKenzie (2002), if the members award the marks in a private scenario, it is possible for students to deduce that their corresponding colleagues awarded them a low mark that they might feel is imbalanced. This might also result in frictions between the group members.

In the “Distribution of Pool of Marks” technique, the teacher adjusts the marks of group members based upon the peer evaluation of a particular group. A drawback of this technique is that talented group members who are in a group of incapable students cannot attain a mark that is more than the group mark. Because the value of the project mark depends on the capability of the whole group, according to Freeman and McKenzie (2002), the project mark is not likely to be as high as if the highly capable group member was functioning with students having similar ability.

Many sophisticated peer assessment methods seek to determine the ultimate level of personal involvement and contribution. A technique forwarded by Goldfinch and Raeside (1990) is where the teacher uses individual reports written by group members to determine the level of individual contribution and participation. This evaluation is then considered against the project to determine a final mark for every group member. The teacher or the instructor must practice careful judgment since contradictions between reports frequently arise. There is a reasonable increase in the workload of the teacher when using this peer assessment method since the teacher needs to read all individual reports in private and then determine a mark for each group member from the information they have gathered. This is particularly true when the number of students is quite high in a class. Food and Beverage Administration classes like any other course might involve gathering of information such as visitor information that can later be used in formulating reports.

In addition, Sergi’s (2007) method emphasizes the individual contribution of student more than it does on their group work skills. This difference is subtle and becomes considerable in hospitality projects that involve students switching roles. This is common, especially in initial projects when group members are trying to responsibilities interest them. Since swapping of responsibilities takes place, according to Boud and Falchikov (2006), it is challenging to discern the extent of contribution by each member.

Sergi’s (2007) method splits the project mark and the process mark and students are rewarded both. With this technique, the teacher assesses the process and the project. In addition, both group participation and personal contribution is evaluated using an inspection. This technique differs from other methods because it rewards the process mark that is independent and individual from the group project mark given to every group member. Boud and Falchikov (2006) classifies the evaluation of the process into two categories: group maintenance functions and task functions.

Sergi’s (2007)technique seems to be complicated, but it could be quite appropriate in for certain topics since it recognizes that process and project mark are separate, though co-dependent modules of group work. Boud and Falchikov (2006) revealed that teachers and instructors rarely attempt to evaluate individual performance within the group. In order to obtain an accurate evaluation of the work of a student, the teacher needs to assess both outcome and the individual contribution. Goldfinch and Raeside (1990) decided that both students and teachers desire fair grading, realistic assessment and equitable assignment of grades to group members.

As much as many of the peer assessment methods outlined above have substantial merit, particularly in Freeman and McKenzie (2002) and Sergi’s (2007) method, their drawback is that they all depend on the short-term assessment. According to Freeman and McKenzie (2002), short-term peer evaluation occurs where students complete a single group project and are affiliates of a particular group. In circumstances where only a single assignment is a group project, a student might be a member of a dysfunctional group if they are unfortunate. Boud and Falchikov (2006) and Freeman and McKenzie (2002) found out that team performance quality can be predicted on the average capability of group members. These approaches also fail to explain the possible generosity, which is expected to result when friends assess each other. It will be very difficult to avoid this type of problems. According to Goldfinch and Raeside (1990), there are chances that victimization or personality clashes might lead to a group member receiving an excessively harsh peer assessment. On the other hand, according to Freeman and McKenzie (2002), long-term peer assessment refers to a situation where a student finishes more than a single project and is a member of more than one group. Long-term peer assessment depends on Sergi’s (2007) method that evaluates individual contribution and participation, and the final group work. Long-term peer evaluation is frequently used when spreading the peer assessment across various projects evaluated by different students groups. Long-term peer evaluation seeks to reduce many risks identified above. As such, long-term peer assessment provides an accurate measure of the value of a student’s group work.

Cultural can affect the way to assess peers

There are gender differences, which have been explained by some researchers who framed with some research questions in order to demonstrate the causes of the presence of gender differences on the grades’ awarding process in peer assessments (Airasian, 2000). These researchers point out that culture could be the main reason behind these gender differences since gender was the cause for all gender roles between male and female. This is because, in many countries, culture imposes that the performance of women in some subjects such as science-related subjects and mathematics is absolutely lower than that of men. This is why women in some cultures have been neglected when it comes to grading in peer assessment, which has made women remain less aggressive than men despite the fact that women have a more potential to gain higher grades than their male counterparts (Brookhart, 2004).

In multicultural teams, many peers who come from different cultural backgrounds work together. Every member of these multicultural teams has a cultural background which greatly differs from the background of other team members; it can be a cause of many obstacles in the contribution of an individual member to a group. Through the multicultural teams, peer assessors come from distinct countries, who have a cultural background which is absolutely different from that of a student being assessed.

Many researchers have put huge efforts into presenting their thoughts to people on sex parity where culture was a large barrier to achieve gender equity (Lorber 2010). Many students who come from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds may face cultural bias in the peer assessment grading because the peer assessors will in most cases evaluate the performance of students according to his/her own values and cultural experiences. These cultural differences may have a negative impact on students who are capable of attaining high grades as they lack motivation from being awarded low grades.

In some countries women have no access to basic education, because in these cultures they believe that if female are able to be well educated, they will be allowed to get high academic grades and they will obtain many opportunities which were only available to men; in this case it could make them realise their worth in the society, which the culture does not allow. This explains the reason of why quite a number of male peer assessors award lower grades to female participants. This is because of the cultural background of male assessors and allows men to have educational possibilities which have been refused to women. In some countries like in Asia or in some Middle East Countries, men are seen to be better in so many fields, against other cultures which have plenty of cases of gender parity.

Culture as education will help to specify gender models and the signification of woman and male roles because gender is built from a mix of behaviours, characteristic, and beliefs which explain how people will act, behave and talk. This leads to ways on variance spotted on characters or behaviour among the people which are as an outcome of cultural and social elements. Gender is supposed to be the variance between males and females and in most cases it is believed to cause the bias in grades awarded in peer assessment

Assessment of Individuals within Groups no-matter the sex they are.

The first problem is the construction of groups. There are two ways to make groups in classes; tutor allocation or self-selection. The students are choosing themselves the composition of the group. The manner in which students construct groups has a significant effect on the end quality of the assessment. High capability students acquire high grades when in groups comprised of similarly high capability students. This is not the case when such students are in groups comprised of students with low academic ability. According to Boud and Falchikov (1989), highly capable students tend to benefit the most when working in groups comprised of students with mixed capability. Nevertheless, they also tend to suffer when in groups comprised of low ability students. Moreover, students with low academic ability also suffer when in groups comprised of other low ability students. Permitting to students construct groups will result in streaming effects. For instance, students with academic ability will probably form groups with other students of the same category (Conway, Kember, Sivan, and Wu, 1993). Consequently, students with low academic will be abandoned to form their own groups. Therefore, the appropriate alternative is to form mixed groups that have mixed academic abilities, though it will be important to be sure to recognize the contribution of highly capable students. This is because the recognition will ensure they are not penalized unjustly by being forced to work with students with lower academic abilities Boud and Falchikov (1989). For this research the researcher is forming the groups, from 5 to 6 members, in order to have a better cohesion between the different teams. A multicultural and a mix of gender composition will be probably better and more easily achieved.  

According to Cantwell and Andrews (2002), it is apparent that groups that are culturally homogenous outdo groups that are heterogeneous if the task is to be done over a short period. This is because they presumably find it simple to focus on the work when they are acquainted with the culture. As the timeframe of the task of the group increases, the performance gap also disappears (Barfield 2003),. This is because students finally invent a manner of working efficiently despite their cultural differences. Groups that are culturally heterogeneous can provide many possible advantages over groups that are homogeneous, comprising greater flexibility and creativity and increased ideas (Conway, Kember, Sivan, and Wu, 1993). But from time to time it could be quite negative, to have teams which are very heterogeneous because some people or student simply do not want to work together; the culture is so different that synergy in the group will never be reached. This could be even worse when you have a mix of gender.

As the size of the groups increase, motivation also decreases (DeNisi, Randolph, and Blencoe, 1982). In addition, students might also not have the adequate group facilitation and management skills in order to cope effectively with large groups. As such, groups consisting of four to six members appear appropriate while those consisting of more than seven seem to cause substantial problems (Cantwell and Andrews, 2002). Marginally, large groups might assist where sheer workload or creativity is an issue, though such groups slow down group progress because of the greater problems of making decisions, monitoring progress and allocating tasks. The size of the group also affects the seriousness of the members in undertaking peer assessment in the moderation or distribution of grades. Furthermore, large groups tend to be unreliable in terms of peer evaluation (Barfield, 2003).

Issues arising when involving students in peer assessment

The first issue relates to the type of rating to be used in assessing groups. In relation to the literature on rating of students by teachers, there is an apparent indication that rating scales need to be anchored behaviourally so that they clearly refer to behaviours. The behaviour should be clearly noticeable in in the contribution and participation of colleagues in the group work. Such behaviour might include being noticed through observing attendance of all meetings of the group. However, the rating scales should not be easily linked to any specific behaviour, which could be unmistakably noticed. Such behaviour includes the helpfulness of a member to the group (Conway, Kember, Sivan, and Wu, 1993).

The second issue concerns the ability of the peer assessment method to promote learning among students. There exists a wide range of evidence that peer assessment provides a learning experience, and enhances the learning of student, self-sufficiently of the usefulness or fairness of the grades produced. Another issue concerns the ability of students to moderate the marks for the group based on self-assessment. Studies of Freeman and McKenzie (2002) and Gatfield (1999) provide a widely mixed answer to the question as to whether students are very generous in the marks they award themselves.. Students with higher academic ability tend to be tough on themselves, forcing them to underestimate the value of their work. On the other hand, students with lower academic ability tend to reward themselves higher marks than what their teachers believe to be justified (Conway, Kember, Sivan, and Wu, 1993). Experienced students seem to either under-estimate or to be accurate, whereas the inexperienced students tend to be over-estimate or to be unreliable. Intriguingly, this phenomenon is also evident with teachers and instructors. Teachers who are highly rated by students tend to rate themselves less than their students’ ratings (Conway, Kember, Sivan, and Wu, 1993). On the contrary, teachers rated poorly by students are likely to rate themselves more highly than their students’ rating. As such, it appears that there is a sensation that as an individual learns and becomes more complicated, the individual tends to apply tougher standards during peer assessment (Maranto and Gresham 1998).

There is also some scanty evidence showing that female students in a group tend to agree with their teachers or instructors more than their male counterparts, although research on gender impacts on peer assessment are usually inconclusive. According to Hindle (1993), students in science faculties perform accurate peer assessment presumably because what they assess is easy to justify as either right or wrong. In addition, science students can also be accurate during their peer assessment because there is less involvement of subjective judgment Pitt (2000).

Correlation between Peer Assessment and Gender Grade

Despite better and equal student learning performances by female students, it is not clear why gender variations in perception occur during peer assessment (Barfield, 2003). Studies often maintain that female students naturally exhibit lower self-confidence levels than male students in relation to unconventional academic achievement. This was shown by Langan et al (2008) which arrives at the conclusion that the female self-awarded marks were nearly always lower than the one provide by the tutor. Various works of research suggest that gender variations are innate or arise because of early socialization that might reduce over time because the upbringing of children emphasizes conventional gender values and roles (Hindle, 1993).

According to De Vita (2002), gender prejudice issues become pronounced when an individual considers natural progression between peer assessment and self-assessment as an essential part of assessment practices. Therefore, gender issues, mix of nationalities, age, pose additional challenges to peer assessment. Moreover, Earl (1986) argues that the quality of peer relationships, which comprise of issues relating to equality, suitable power relations, and respect tends to have a relatively smaller effect on the psychological well-being of male students than that of female students. This variation can affect both the quality of learning and most importantly performance assessment.

There exists sufficient literature suggesting that female students underestimate their performance, whereas male students overestimate their performance. This is not only true in education but in day to day life this attitude is quite common. Maybe it is what some person may call machismo. According to Earl (1986), female students underestimate themselves despite being equal to or outperforming their male counterparts. Regardless of performance, across disciplines female students have greater belief in their capabilities in humanitarian disciplines, whereas male students tend to have greater belief in the capabilities in science disciplines.

Studies conducted by Earl (1986) and Falchikov (1988) revealed that there is no gender differences in cognitive abilities of students, though female students seem more empathetic and show greater communication orientation than their male counterparts. Nevertheless, female students are more likely to rate interpersonal skills more highly than male students. Similarly, Barfield (2003) argues that male students seem to rate skills requiring managing self-learning, information handling, and technical aspects higher.

Studies of Falchikov (1988) suggest that considerable variations in subjective evaluation of the level of cognitive ability depend on the sex of the student being assessed by his or her peers. For instance, females and males constantly rate male family members as very intelligent compared to female family members. When such a perception manifests itself in higher education, it can result in the stereotypical belief that male students perform better than female students. Consequently, peer evaluation practices might not offer the most appropriate harmonizing learning strategy to correct gender disparity present in peer-assessment practices (Dochy, Segers, Van den Bossche, and Giibels, 2003).

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