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From PAF to SPLAT: desperately seeking peer assessment

Guest blog by Dr Hayley McGrice, Lecturer, School of Animal and Veterinary Science
Hayley McGrice splat_logo 2

The Student & Peer Learning Assessment Tool (SPLAT)
– an equitable way to assign individual grades for groups assignments that reflect the contributions of each student.

Let’s talk group work: Academics like it because it teaches our students team work skills, allows multiple topics to be covered across large student cohorts and above all, it reduces the marking load. Students on the other hand generally hate it because not everyone pulls their weight. ‘Coat tail riders’ let the group down yet everyone ends up with the same mark for the assessment. There has to be an equitable way to assign individual grades for groups assignments that reflect the contributions of each student. And so began our quest to find an online, quantitative and confidential peer assessment tool that would integrate groups and gradebook in the learning management system.

Many tools were trialled, including iPeer, SparkPlus, Moodle Workshop (thanks to the School of Computer Science) and both quizzes and surveys in Blackboard. However none were well suited to the task as they required significant administration from course coordinators or were not end-user friendly. In 2015 The University of Queensland introduced us to the Peer Assessment Factor (PAF) tool, sharing the tool with us, which we implemented across numerous courses from multiple Faculties. The tool allowed students to provide quantitative scores to each group member for criteria defined by the course coordinator e.g. punctuality, contribution, preparedness and respect. The tool facilitated easy moderation of student scores and allowed students to provide text comments to justify their scores.

Semester 2, 2016 brought with it MyUni Transform and although Canvas provided multiple benefits to academics and students alike, PAF and Canvas did not play well together. A solution was needed, so magicians from the Teaching Applications team, innovators from Learning Enhancement and Innovations and motivated academics across multiple Faculties came together to design and plan a new peer assessment tool. Purpose built from scratch and designed to seamlessly integrate groups, assignments and gradebook in Canvas, the new Student Peer Assessment and Learning Tool (SPLAT 1.0) was born. In semester 2, 2017 a initial version of SPLAT was used in multiple courses in the Faculties of Sciences, Professions and Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences.  Initial feedback from both students and academics has been extremely positive. The SPLAT team met again recently, with academics prioritising enhancements in functionality and usability, the future of SPLAT 2.0 is bright. Stay tuned to find out when the tool will be widely available.

Learn more about SPLAT in the MyUni Learning Centre. If you have any further questions regarding the SPLAT tool please contact Jasmine Chen or Dr Hayley McGrice.

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