EDUC 8842 Module 3 Blog Post July 9, 2014
Assessing Collaborative Efforts by Linette Rasheed
The growing numbers of students enrolled in distance education programs and blended programs have educators exploring innovative methods to provide online learners with the best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment. Lingering questions such as: How should participation in a collaborative learning community be assessed? How do the varying levels of skill and knowledge students bring to a course affect the instructor’s “fair and equitable assessment” of learning? are two topics highly discussed. George Siemens (2008) argued for a four-point model to ensure that students receive “fair and equitable assessment” by: a) allowing students to assess their peers, b) direct students to online communities where they can also receive feedback, c) that educators assess their students based on what they contribute, and d) that educators use metrics from the online management system. To continue to give students the best opportunity for learning in a fair and equitable environment, Siemens (2008) noted that students bring a wide variety of skills and knowledge to the learning environment. With this in mind, educators must begin to look at the growth of the student and determine, Siemens (2008) argued, how much learning he or she acquired before assessing that student.
Another lingering question facing educators in distance education is how to resolve issues that may occur if a student does not want to collaborate in a learning community? As Palloff and Pratt (2008) explained “we cannot assume, as instructors, that our students will simply understand why collaboration is important. Often, students express resistance to participating in collaborative exercises due to past negative experiences wherein other students did not share the load, it was difficult to connect with one another across time zones, or because of the amount of work collaborative activity entails” ( p. 24). Sentiments such as these resonate with many distance education learners. They explain why some students unequivocally refuse to work in learning communities and would rather work independently on assignments for an online course. When this occurs, however, the dynamics of the learning community change which leaves other members of the learning community wondering what to do. However, Andrew Marcinek (2014) in his blog “Importance of collaborative assessment in a 21st Century Classroom” wrote because assessment happens in the real world, corporations, government, private industry, collaborative assessment must be part of learning environments. “We as educators are doing our students a disservice if we don’t attempt to make this type of assessment available to our students because most modern environments involve some type of collaboration or connected problem-solving to enhance their corporation or product.” http://www.edutopia.org/blog/collaborative-assessment-digital-classroom-social-media-tools. As such, students must be encouraged to participate, and communication and trust must be established early. Clear expectations must also be set and group norms must be adhered to. These parameters provide more opportunities for collaboration and assessment to occur; however, in the event that a member of a learning community is reluctant, the instructor’s role changes. Now, the instructor must play the role of interventionist and explore ways to foster engagement from the student. This change will also impact the instructor’s assessment plan. Coined by Siemens (2008) as broader assessment,the instructor must move beyond mark-based assessment and into assessment based on the student’s growth.
That’s my take, Linette
Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Principles of distance education: Assessment of collaborative learning. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Marcinek, A. (2014, July 9). Importance of collaborative assessment in a 21st Century Classroom. [Web log post]
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating online: Learning together in community. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
As author of this blog, I have also commented on the following blogs on Assessing Collaborative Efforts by:
Castanos, Joseline http://castanosblogs.blogspot.com/
Brown, Heather http://heatherbrownwaldenu.wordpress.com