Using Peer Assessment to Make Teamwork Work: An Instructor Resource VideoOn September 27, 2019 by Raul Dinwiddie
Teamwork provides students with opportunities
to exchange ideas with peers, which is essential for developing critical thinking, learning
and developing skills, such as interpersonal skills, and relating to one another as co-constructors
of knowledge in a cooperative way rather than a competitive way. One way to support teamwork
is by having students assess peers’ contributions to teamwork, as well as their behaviour throughout
the completion of an assignment. That’s peer assessment of team work. In a team situation,
peer assessment can support productive and harmonious team experiences by making students
accountable to their team members. So what do team experiences look like? And where does
peer assessment fit in? Tuckman suggests a framework that reflects four stages teams
commonly go through as they work toward functioning as a real team. The four stages are forming,
storming, norming, and performing. In forming, students come together in groups because you’ve
assigned them to groups, and begin to orient themselves to what it means to work interdependently.
In storming, students struggle with interpersonal concerns. There may be conflicts within the
team, such as disagreement about roles and responsibilities. Ideally, this stage will
pass rapidly or it may be that students skip it entirely and move from forming directly
to the next stage, norming. In norming, students develop greater cohesiveness in their teams.
They clarify and adopt agreed upon roles and responsibilities, and they become comfortable
expressing their points of view. In performing, students are truly working in concert to achieve
the assignment goals. Performing also refers to students assessing their peers’ contributions
to achieving those goals. The four stages are not necessarily sequential. Students might
move from one stage to the next and then back again. Are you wondering how this framework
ties in to peer assessment? Forming, storming, and norming are the foundation for students
to be able to work together in cohesive and productive teams. Storming and norming allow
students to work together to build trust in one another. Trust is important when asking
peers to provide feedback on each other’s work. Think about your own work with colleagues.
Is it possible you’re more receptive to feedback when you trust the source and you know that
they’ll provide you with constructive feedback? Once the foundation and trust are established,
students can prepare to assess one another’s contributions to and behaviours during the
assignment. Are you wondering exactly what students might assess at different stages
of the framework? Here are some examples: Presence, such as meeting attendance and dependability.
Contributions, such as the quality of students’ work, the idea students shared, and the effort
they put into the task. Team skills, such as cooperation, the ability to respect deadlines,
manage conflict, and set and meet group goals. Communication, such as responding promptly
to emails or texts and providing constuctive comments. Peer assessment of each team member’s
performance doesn’t have to be complicated. Students can address questions like “who worked
hard in your group and why did you choose this person?” You might be wondering,
can an instructor do to address problematic or dysfunctional teams? What tools are available
for supporting peer assessment of teamwork? What percentage, if any, of students’ grades
should be allotted to peer assessment of contributions to teamwork? For answers to these and other
questions, take a look TLS’ instructor resource document. You’ll find links to examples of
team contracts, assessment rubrics, and other supports. Not exactly sure how to implement
peer assessment of teamwork with your students? Contact TLS for an individual consultation.
We’ll be happy to work with you.