September 5th, 2008

Peer Assessment in Small Groups


Need a good list of behaviors that students can assess when they work with each other in small groups? Diane Baker, in an excellent article on peer assessment in small groups (I’ll be excerpting more from it in an upcoming issue of the newsletter), reviewed a wide collection of instruments and found that although the number of items varied, most included some iteration of these eight behavioral components.

  • Attended group meetings, as in were available to meet, came on time and did not leave early
  • Were dependable, as in met deadlines, did what they said they would do
  • Delivered, as in did the work they were assigned and did it well
  • Made an effort or made an extra effort, as in volunteered for work, actively engaged in helping the group get the work done, took up the slack when need be
  • Worked cooperatively with others, as in communicated well with group members, got along with everybody, shared information, and listened
  • Helped the group manage conflict, as in worked to resolve interpersonal or group conflict, helped to create a constructive environment where conflict was managed to the benefit of the group
  • Contributed, as in brought knowledge, experience and/or skills that helped the group accomplish its task
  • Helped the group achieve its goals, as in helped with identification of goals, then monitored progress and finally assessed achievement

If students don’t have a lot of experience assessing each other’s performance, then using instruments that identify concrete observable behaviors is probably a good place to start. Not only does this develop the skills of observation, it is a more descriptive and less judgmental approach to evaluation. Either the group member showed up to meetings or not.

Reference: Baker, D. L., (2008). Peer assessment in small groups: A comparison of methods. Journal of Management Education, 32 (2), 183-209.

—Maryellen Weimer