Module 3 Blog 2
Assessing Collaborative Efforts
Regardless of the mode of instruction, assessment is important in gauging valued components of a course. As an educator, I view assessment as continuous process which informs the instructor about progress in focal aspects of learning. Although it is important and necessary to promote online learning, collaboration is not easy nor straightforward, and neither is assessing it.
Palloff and Pratt (2005) noted that as challenging as it is to collaborate online, it is even more challenging to justify to students how they were assessed. Palloff and Pratt suggested that to effectively assess students in a collaborative learning environment, instructors need to understand the rudiments of student assessment. The authors cited Angelo and Cross (1993) as suggesting that assessment should be ingrained in and allineate with the course construction. Palloff and Pratt have collated a number of principles that should guide student assessment. The design should be focused on the learner with opportunity for self-reflection. It should also be grading rubrics which evaluate all the input that each students makes to the collaborative effort. Collaborative assessment should include public posting of papers from all students. Palloff and Pratt also encouraged training students to provide effective feedback. Assessment techniques should align with the learning objectives as well as being easy to understand and suitable for the online environment. The authors also suggested getting student input in conducting the assessment.
The varying levels of skill and knowledge that students bring to the course can really be an enigma for instructors. According to Siemens (2008) when students are allowed to assess their colleagues, it is one means of ensuring the instructor is fair in assessing each student. Students who peer assess will know which of their peers have been active in the collaborative effort, or for the duration of a project, and as such will know what that contribution was worth. Rather than being the sole person in charge of assessment, instructors can get a group of learners to assist in the assessment process. This will allow the instructor to take himself out of direct line of assessment so he will not have to decide on giving marks to individuals, but to concentrate beyond mark based assessment.
Students who do not want to participate in a in a learning community can be notified that the assessment is out of the hands of the instructor and will be generated by a Learning Management System (LMS), and will be based on the level of participation that the student gives in the class. Siemens (2008) also recommended that a process could be built into the design of the course that would allow for peer assessment.
Laureate Education, Inc., (2008). Principles of distance education: Assessment of collaborative learning. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Palloff, R. & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating online: Learning together in community. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.