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This issue of CDTL Brief is the first of a two-part instalment featuring the teaching practices of faculty members who have won the Excellent Teacher Award for three consecutive academic years (2001/2002–2004/2005).

September 2005, Vol. 8, No. 6 Print Ready ArticlePrint-Ready
Getting Students to Assess Each Other
 
Associate Professor Florence Ling Yean Yng
Department of Building
 

Introduction

This paper describes a method for students to evaluate fellow students' tutorial presentations. In a continuous assessment activity involving graded tutorial presentations, a student presenter is evaluated by both his/her tutor (instructor) and fellow classmates (student-evaluators). In order to make peer evaluation meaningful and motivating for student-evaluators, the marks awarded by them account for a significant portion of the presenter's continuous assessment marks, and the student-evaluators are given additional marks for making an objective evaluation.

Learning Method

The tutor sets a list of tutorial questions for students to present in class and identifies a student to work on each question and then present his/her findings to the class. The presenter is then evaluated by both his/her instructor and student-evaluators. The tutor and student-evaluators use a specially designed evaluation form (see Table 1) to evaluate the presentations for clarity, accuracy and presentation skills.

There are three parts to the evaluation:

  1. The mark awarded by the instructor accounts for 50% of the total marks.

  2. The average mark awarded by student-evaluators takes up another 50% of the total marks.

  3. The student-evaluators are each awarded a mark for his/her effort if his/her mark falls within ± 5% of the instructor's rating. This is to prevent student-evaluators from being biased in their assessments. For example, if they awarded their close friends with high marks or punish their 'enemies' with low marks, the student-evaluators will not earn any marks for the evaluation exercise. Though the instructor's rating may be a fallible benchmark, it is more objective compared to the students'.

Table 1. Format for evaluation of presenters

 

Learning Outcomes

The following six learning outcomes are achieved from this learning method:

  1. Students demonstrate mastery of the subject and better retention.

    The formal evaluation by instructor and student-evaluators require presenters to search for additional materials and construct their own knowledge, thus encouraging deep learning. The student-evaluators are also involved in proactive learning because they need to do some work before the presentations in order to evaluate the presenters accurately.

  2. Students learn how to 'sell' their ideas and defend their work.

    The ability to 'sell' an idea is important especially when students join the industry. During the presentations, presenters learn how to 'sell' their CDTL Brief / September 2005, Page ideas to the instructor and student-evaluators' and defend their work.

  3. Students learn from one another.

    In order to give an accurate evaluation, studentevaluators not only have to read up on the presentation topics prior to the presentation, but also listen attentively to the presenters during the presentations. Being attentive during the presentations enable student-evaluators to check their understanding of the topic and pick up new nuggets of information at the same time.

  4. Students develop better communication skills.

    During the presentations, presenters must make a conscious effort to communicate effectively as this is an evaluation criterion. While presenters learn the nuts and bolts of public speaking through hands-on experience, student-evaluators learn as they observe the presenter closely and conclude what works and what does not. Thus, student-evaluators also improve their own presentation skills by evaluating their peers,

  5. Students acquire the ability to think critically and evaluate objectively.

    As student-evaluators will only score additional marks if their marks are within a specified range from the instructor's, they have to think critically, learn to respect other people's ideas and make sure that their evaluation is not affected by their own partiality.

  6. Students understand what is achievement-based work ethic.

    Presenters have to put in extra effort in their preparation because they are graded by both the instructor and their classmates. This gives them a good understanding of achievement-based work ethic (i.e. the reward will commensurate with the effort put in) and motivates them in their learning.

Personal Experience from Using This Method

When I first used this method in AY 2002/2003, student-evaluators could earn marks if their ratings fell within ± 10% of my rating. Over the years, I found that when I gave student-evaluators feedback on their rating accuracy, their ability to evaluate objectively improved. Therefore, I now award marks to student-evaluators for ratings that fall within ±3% of ratings.

My students enjoy learning with this method. Some comments from students include:

  • "Getting students to evaluate a fellow student's presentation is an innovative learning method."

  • "We were asked to evaluate the presenter. This made us pay full attention."

  • "The new method of earning marks is a great improvement; it encourages students to think critically."
 
 
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Inside this issue
Teaching and Learning: The Journey of an Educator
   
"I teach to watch the lights come on": Reflections on Best Practices
   
Personal Touch of a Teacher in the Learning Expedition
   
Getting Students to Assess Each Other
   
My Teaching Philosophy and Approach