Can teamwork skills be assessed fairly in higher education?
Heinze, A and Whatley, JE 2009, Can teamwork skills be assessed fairly in higher education? , in: The aims of the workshop were to: share what is commonly meant by “teamwork” skills; share common issues and challenges in assessment facing educators who utilise team work; propose possible multiple action to resolve the potential challenges., September 2009, University of Salford, Salford, Greater Manchester.
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Teamwork is widely acknowledged as an essential skill for students in higher education to prepare them to the real-life team working environments (Lynch, Heinze 2007). But, it is not easy to assess team working skills (Cooper and Heinze 2007). Moreover, some authors such as Hyland and Johnson (1998) argue that transferable, generic, core, key skills cannot exist outside of a context, but should be replaced by curriculum experiences which are not structured enough to be assessed adequately. Teamwork is also full of pitfalls for students, making each individuals’ experience unique. This paper reports on findings from three years of action research on a team project based learning environment at a Higher Education Institution. It is followed by a discussion at a workshop aiming to address some of the common issues of teamwork and assessment. Particular attention is given to “fair” assessment of teamwork and strategies to make the assessment a “fair” process, drawing on experience of one of the schemes run in the Salford Business School. The findings highlight that issues of passengers, selection of team leaders and team composition have a direct link in relation to fair assessment. Moreover, it is argued that to make the assessment process “fair” assessment is to be undertaken continuously throughout the team working process. Assessment has to ideally focus on the project deliverables as well as the process the team members engage in and finally that peer assessment, which allows all team members to reflect on their own and the performance of their peers, can be an effective means of assessment.
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