How can educators enhance academic outcomes and career-readiness competencies in diversely composed teams through teammate peer assessment?

Presenters: Olga Dodd and Patrick Dodd


The National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook Report for 2019 identified that teamwork, collaboration, professionalism, and oral communications rate amongst the most highly needed Career Readiness Competencies (CRCs) sought by employers (NACE, 2018).

These competencies rate at least as ‘Essential’ or ’Absolutely essential’. To a lesser extent, global and multicultural fluency was rated as ‘Somewhat essential’. Nevertheless, the requirements for multicultural fluency are certainly rising. Consequently, teachers have the opportunity and responsibility to apply educational practices that maximise the benefits associated with assigning academic assignments to diversely composed teams.

Group assignments provide learners with opportunities to establish, practice, and develop essential CRCs including multicultural fluency. However, for effective learning to be surfaced from a group assignment the teacher must ‘wrap around’ several additional learning processes. First, learners must distinguish between the exemplary, adequate, and inadequate demonstration of the CRCs. Second, learners must practice applying their CRCs within the context of their group assignment. Finally, well-managed peer assessment and peer feedback processes are crucial to ensuring that learners gain timely feedback on their CRC strengths and areas for development. Specifically, the peer feedback process must provide measures that value the inclusion of others and the contribution towards helping others learn course concepts and project requirements.

Group assignments generate several possible risks such as social loafing, exclusion, and dominating behaviour. These risks may be raised as group composition becomes more diverse as measured by factors such as culture, country of origin, geographic location, age, gender, subject discipline, personality, and life experience. Our evidence is that early risk identification through formative group peer assessment and peer feedback is an effective approach towards mitigating these types of risks, raising overall team cohesion, team performance, academic results, and, ultimately graduate employability (Sprague, Wilson, & McKenzie, 2019, Mellalieu & Dodd, 2018). This session will discuss our findings.

Mellalieu, P. J., & Dodd, P. (2018, November). Honest performance feedback from their team members contributes highly to students’ course learning. Poster presentation presented at the 2018 Ako Aotearoa Northern Hub 6th Projects Colloquium, Auckland.
National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). (2018). Job Outlook 2019. Figure 42, p. 33. Bethlehem, PA.
Sprague, M., Wilson, K. F., & McKenzie, K. S. (2019). Evaluating the quality of peer and self evaluations as measures of student contributions to group projects. Higher Education Research & Development, 38(5), 1061–1074.