The Validity of Group Marks as a Proxy for Individual Learning in E-Learning Settings

The Validity of Group Marks as a Proxy for Individual Learning in E-Learning Settings

Paul Lajbcygier (Monash University, Australia) and Christine Spratt (Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Australia)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-410-1.ch008
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This chapter presents recent research on group assessment in an e-learning environment as an avenue to debate contemporary issues in the design of assessment strategies. The underpinning research measured individual students’ contributions to group processes, individual students’ influence on their peers’ topic understanding of the related curriculum content, and the influence of the overall group experience on personal learning in an e-learning environment designed to act as a catalyst for the group learning. As well, the learning objectives fundamental to the project work were tested individually as part of the final examination. Further, the authors complemented the quantitative aspects of the research with focus group interviews to determine if students perceived that the e-learning environment helped attain the group learning objectives. The authors found that e-learning does not necessarily enhance deep learning in group assignments. They also found that the attainment of group learning objectives does not translate to the attainment of the same individual learning objectives. The chapter provides comment on the relationship that may exist between students’ perceptions of the e-learning environment, the group project work and e-learning group dynamics.
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Having students work together in small groups, on some common assignment task is part of most fields in university teaching (Biggs, 2003; Laurillard, 2002; Lejk, Wyvill & Farrow, 1997; Ramsden, 2003; Wen & Chin-Chung, 2008). Claims in support of using group work have ranged across pedagogical activities such as providing for practice in group skills, preparation for professional life, the fostering of learning related interaction, and even the reduction of teachers’ marking loads (Bourner, Hughes & Bourner; 2001; Gammie & Matson 2007; Goldfinch, Laybourn, MacLeod & Stewart, 1999; Higher Education Academy, 2008; Sharp, 2006; Steensels et al., 2006; Thorpe 2008). Such activities can involve groups from three or four students up to larger teams of perhaps a dozen students. The work undertaken by those groups can range from some small defined task that could take days, through to large scale multi-faceted projects that might take an entire semester (often 13 weeks of full time study), and consume the bulk of the study time that a student has available within a single enrolment unit.

With the growth of E-Learning across the higher education and corporate learning sectors globally, there is now a plethora of ‘tools’ available that can act as catalysts to promote group learning opportunities—for example proprietary and open source learning management systems such as Blackboard and Moodle; discussion groups (e.g. bulletin boards) permit group members to post information for the other members of the group to view non-synchronously; online chat forums permit group members to meet virtually and discuss their progress synchronously. More recently online social networking technologies and interactive spaces (e.g. YouTube, MySpace and wikis) as well as virtual real-time environments (e.g. Second Life) have been explored and used by teachers and learners to meet educational goals (Miller & Lu, 2007; Boulos, Hetherington & Wheeler, 2007; Elgort, Smith & Toland, 2008).

In this chapter we focus on the alignment, attainment and testing of group and individual learning objectives. While this takes place in an E-Learning setting, we conclude that such an environment is not crucial for this purpose. In our context, the E-Learning that took place was part of a ‘blended’ learning strategy. The E-Learning that took place was in the ‘background’ so to speak, facilitating weekly discussion and debate required for students’ group assignments using ‘chat’ and bulletin boards. Ultimately, while it aided the attainment of the group learning objectives, we did not investigate the impact of the E-Learning environment on group dynamics. As such, this chapter’s focus is on a comparison of individual versus group assessment in an E-Learning supported environment.

Over the last five years we have studied whether group learning assessment is valid and whether E-Learning acts as a catalyst for group learning. This chapter, which is a synthesis of our prior work, provides evidence that E-Learning does not necessarily enhance deep learning in group assignments and that the attainment of group learning objectives does not translate to the attainment of the same individual learning objectives. It suggests the obvious: that an E-Learning environment per se does not automatically lead to the attainment of deep learning objectives. It also raises implications for further work in relation to group dynamics and E-Learning supported group work in classrooms.

An important caveat is that our study is somewhat limited since we focused on e-moderation in forums and chats, which may not be representative of the learning and assessment potential of social networking techniques. It is feasible that the use of different technologies in the same assessment setting may create different group learning opportunities or lead to different conclusions.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Gary Poole
Christine Spratt, Paul Lajbcygier
Chapter 1
Selby Markham, John Hurt
Reliability and validity have a well-established place in the development and implementation of educational assessment devices. With the advent of... Sample PDF
Re-Assessing Validity and Reliability in the E-Learning Environment
Chapter 2
Päivi Hakkarainen, Tarja Saarelainen, Heli Ruokamo
In this chapter the authors report on the assessment framework and practices that they applied to the e-learning version of the Network Management... Sample PDF
Assessing Teaching and Students' Meaningful Learning Processes in an E-Learning Course
Chapter 3
Charlotte Brack
Within the notion of Web 2.0, social software has characteristics that make it particularly relevant to ELearning, aligning well with a social... Sample PDF
Collaborative E-Learning Using Wikis: A Case Report
Chapter 4
Mike Hobbs, Elaine Brown, Marie Gordon
This chapter provides an introduction to learning and teaching in the virtual world Second Life (SL). It focuses on the nature of the environment... Sample PDF
Learning and Assessment with Virtual Worlds
Chapter 5
Paul White, Greg Duncan
This chapter describes innovative approaches to E-Learning and related assessment, driven by a Faculty Teaching and Learning Technologies Committee... Sample PDF
A Faculty Approach to Implementing Advanced, E-Learning Dependent, Formative and Summative Assessment Practices
Chapter 6
Christine Armatas, Bernard Colbert
Two challenges with online assessment are making sure data collected is secure and authenticating the data source. The first challenge relates to... Sample PDF
Ensuring Security and Integrity of Data for Online Assessment
Chapter 7
Robyn Benson
This chapter addresses some issues relating to the use of e-learning tools and environments for implementing peer assessment. It aims to weigh up... Sample PDF
Issues in Peer Assessment and E-Learning
Chapter 8
Paul Lajbcygier, Christine Spratt
This chapter presents recent research on group assessment in an e-learning environment as an avenue to debate contemporary issues in the design of... Sample PDF
The Validity of Group Marks as a Proxy for Individual Learning in E-Learning Settings
Chapter 9
Robert S. Friedman, Fadi P. Deek, Norbert Elliot
In order to offer a unified framework for the empirical assessment of e-learning (EL), this chapter presents findings from three studies conducted... Sample PDF
Validation of E-Learning Courses in Computer Science and Humanities: A Matter of Context
Chapter 10
Richard Tucker, Jan Fermelis, Stuart Palmer
There is considerable evidence of student scepticism regarding the purpose of team assignments and high levels of concern for the fairness of... Sample PDF
Designing, Implementing and Evaluating a Self-and-Peer Assessment Tool for E-Learning Environments
Chapter 11
Andrew Sanford, Paul Lajbcygier, Christine Spratt
A differential item functioning analysis is performed on a cohort of E-Learning students undertaking a unit in computational finance. The motivation... Sample PDF
Identifying Latent Classes and Differential Item Functioning in a Cohort of E-Learning Students
Chapter 12
Christine Armatas, Anthony Saliba
A concern with E-Learning environments is whether students achieve superior or equivalent learning outcomes to those obtained through traditional... Sample PDF
Is Learning as Effective When Studying Using a Mobile Device Compared to Other Methods?
Chapter 13
Thomas C. Reeves, John G. Hedberg
Evaluation falls into the category of those often neglected human practices such as exercise and eating right. All of us involved in education or... Sample PDF
Evaluation Strategies for Open and Distributed Learning Environments
Chapter 14
Madhumita Bhattacharya
This chapter presents a description and analysis of salient issues related to the development of an integrated e-portfolio application implemented... Sample PDF
Introducing Integrated E-Portfolio Across Courses in a Postgraduate Program in Distance and Online Education
Chapter 15
John LeBaron, Carol Bennett
Teachers and designers of computer-networked settings increasingly acknowledge that active learner engagement poses unique challenges, especially... Sample PDF
Practical Strategies for Assessing the Quality of Collaborative Learner Engagement
Chapter 16
Som Naidu
Many teachers commonly use assessment as the starting point of their teaching activities because they believe that assessment drives learning and... Sample PDF
Afterword: Learning-Centred Focus to Assessment Practices
About the Contributors