How undergraduate and postgraduate science students perceive self- and peer-assessed group work

Luciane V Mello, Susanne Voelkel


Working in collaboration is increasingly important in the scientific research environment; and preparing students for their future careers is given ever-increasing weight in Higher Education. This study aimed to compare undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG) students’ satisfaction with group work and to explore if they differed in the way they engaged with self- and peer-assessment. In both cohorts self- and peer-assessment for contribution was implemented to address the issue of mark fairness. The results show high similarities between UG and PG students: (a) students acknowledged that they learned more in a group than they would have working on their own and appreciated the exercise of self- and peer-marking other groups’ work; (b) for self- and peer-assessment of contribution, the difference in attitude and approach between students was still a reason for dissatisfaction for some of them. However, we found that students marked colleagues’ work more honestly when the mark served purely for formative purposes, arguing that the contribution to final module marks should be only from staff assessment, not from peer-assessment. Results also show that the group dynamic – the degree to which students interacted well socially - influenced students’ appreciation and liking of the group work, and this was independent of students’ level of study.

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