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Identifying Free Riders in Online Work Groups by Using an Intra-Group Peer and Self Evaluation

Kadriye O. Lewis (Children's Mercy Hospital, USA)
Session Information
October 15, 2015 - 10:15am
Learning Effectiveness
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Southern Hemisphere I
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 6
Virtual Session
Best in Track

This presentation will introduce a unique model of peer and self-evaluation for assessing online group member performance to reduce free riding behaviors in online courses.

Extended Abstract

Upon successful completion of the session, participants will be able to:
- Describe the intra-group evaluation process in online group tasks
- Explain how to communicate expectations and criteria to be used for an individual's assessment within the group
- Identify evaluation criteria for measuring a students' performance in work groups
- Discuss effective strategies to reduce the free riding behaviors in work groups
- Outline benefits and challenges of evaluating individual contributions to the group's process using a peer and self-assessment method.
- Discuss strategies to meet the challenges encountered in group evaluation processes in online work groups

Group work offers many positive learning opportunities for online students to improve their work attitudes, explore a diversity of opinions, and increase their confidence levels in academic settings. Online teaching and learning environments are naturally conducive for group collaboration, especially when learning activities and the method of assessments are aligned with teaching and learning objectives to promote effective group tasks. However, fair assessment of group members may pose challenges for online instructors since free-riding behaviors are prevalent by one or more students in work groups (Davies, 2009). The difficulty comes from issues related to equity of individual contribution, fairness of grading and student experience as a member of the group. Thus, constructing an effective assessment technique can be a daunting task for many online instructors (Palloff & Pratt, 2003, 2005).

In 2003, for the purpose of assessing student performance within the groups, I developed an "Intra-Group Member Peer and Self Evaluation" form using predetermined criteria to assess individual performance along with open-ended questions. Initially, the form was used in a word document format. However, collecting the results and student submission of the evaluation forms via email were labor intensive procedures. Therefore, in order to facilitate the data collection, I put the forms completely online using SurveyMonkey, a web-based tool to create/publish custom surveys and collect/analyze results in real-time. This type of assessment helped reduce the students' concerns about group assignments and made them aware of their expected performance and the group product. Further, this format helped increase student motivation and group dynamics, including interaction within the groups and between the groups.

This presentation will introduce a unique model of peer and self evaluation for assessing group member performance to reduce free riding behaviors in online courses. The benefits of group work, students' difficulties with group process, and challenges of evaluating individual contributions to group tasks will be addressed. The session will provide information on how students are assigned to groups to complete a project or task and how they work with their groups in the reserved "Group Work" area on Blackboard. In addition, the session will discuss strategies to meet the challenges encountered in group evaluation processes as well as provide a number of practical recommendations associated with online group work.

Davies, M. W. (2009). Groupwork as a form of assessment: common problems and recommended solutions. Higher Education, 58, 563-584. Published online: 20 March 2009_ Springer Science+Business Media B.V

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2003). The virtual student. (pp.17-28). San Francisco , CA : Jossey-Bass.

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating online: Learning together in community. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Lead Presenter

Kadriye O. Lewis, EdD, is the Director of Evaluation and Program Development in the Department of Graduate Medical Education at Children's Mercy Hospital. She is also Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Dr. Lewis received both her MEd and EdD in Curriculum and Instruction with the emphasis on Instructional Design and Technology from the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio. She did her postgraduate Diploma in Linguistics in Edinburg Moray House College, Scotland. Her MA is in English as a Second Language (ESL) from Eskisehir Teacher College, Turkey.

Prior to coming to Children's Mercy, Dr. Lewis worked for Cincinnati ChildrenÕs Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) for more than 13 years. She played a major role in the development of the Online Master's Degree in Education Program for Healthcare Professionals. This program has developed a national and international reputation for excellence and played an important role in training future leaders in medical education. Dr. Lewis served as an education consultant to the medical center's faculty development program. She applied her educational background and academic skills to health literacy by establishing a Health Literacy Committee at CCHMC in 2007 and chaired this committee successfully for three years. Along with her many accomplishments in the area of scholarly activities, she also established the e-Learning SIG in Medical Education for the Academic Pediatrics Association (APA) and has been chairing this group since 2009.

Dr. Lewis is active in medical education research and her scholarly interests include performance-based assessment, the construction of new assessment tools as well as the improvement and validation of existing tools and methods. Due to her extensive experience in e-learning and web-based technologies, she also has a particular interest in instructional design and implementation of innovative technologies for curriculum delivery at many levels in healthcare education. Dr. Lewis presents extensively at many professional meetings and conferences, and has been an invited speaker at many international and national universities.