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Group Collaboration in Assessment

Group collaboration in Assessment: Multiple Objectives, Processes, and Outcomes


Large-scale assessment programs are increasingly requiring students to work in collaborative small groups instead of, or in addition to, working individually. This paper considers theoretical and practical issues that need to be taken into account in the design, use, and interpretation of the results of such assessments. Theoretical issues include the compatibility of group work with different purposes of assessment and how the group processes that emerge in collaborative settings may work toward or against different purposes of assessment. Practical issues include how to design and administer assessments so that they yield scores that are consistent with the goals of the assessment, how to compose groups so that the results are fair, and how to prepare students for collaborative group assessments.

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Although small group work is common in classrooms, they are practically a fact of life in many Internet based projects, primarily because computer stations are shared rather than reserved for a single student. Moreover, some large-scale efforts are being initiated to evaluate student performance in groups; acquiring productive work group skills are regarded by some educators as essential for future employability.

The author considers the purposes of assessment, how the different purposes sometimes represent competing goals of learning, how the purpose of the assessment and the kind of task may differentially influence the outcomes, and issues of design, fairness, and equity.

The author also provides an extensive bibliography and some examples from science education projects.

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Professor Noreen M. Webb

Professor Noreen M. Webb is a Professor of Education and the Vice Chair of the Education Department at UCLA.

Internet based projects make an ideal testbed for practicing and assessing group skills. Even if a single student enjoys a machine, that student will be collaborating with another student or perhaps a professional scientist via a network.

In this article the major issues are explained but accruing more experience in this domain is vital to advance the field. Gather your own observations and share them with colleagues!

Webb, Noreen M. (1995) "Group collaboration in Assessment: Multiple Objectives, Processes, and Outcomes", EEPA. 17 (2), 239-261. Copyright (1995) by the American Educational Research Association.

is reprinted here by permission of the publisher.

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