Assessing Final-Year Practical Work Through Group Projects

Philippa Cranwell, Elizabeth M Page, Adam M Squires

Abstract


The final year project is a valuable research experience for undergraduates and can be one of the most rewarding aspects of their degree course. With increasing student numbers it is becoming more difficult to supervise students effectively, as truly independent enquiry-based working requires significant supervision, time and resource. To address this, the Department of Chemistry at the University of Reading has recently explored the use of group projects for final year practical work. Students work in teams of 3 to 5 and are presented with a research problem to investigate. These are genuine problems where the answer is unknown and the work open-ended. The students must work together to investigate the problem, dividing the work and sharing results in a manner that more closely resembles project working outside of academia. The students’ output is assessed through a variety of means including a group presentation and report. The projects were successful, with all students completing the work to a satisfactory level and developing strong team-working skills. This paper will outline some of the issues faced in the first year of delivery, and the steps taken to alleviate them. 


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