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Helping undergraduate students across disciplines and cultures actively engage and collaborate as equal members of a community of scholars : peer review within an e-learning environment

Taylor, Suzanne (2011) Helping undergraduate students across disciplines and cultures actively engage and collaborate as equal members of a community of scholars : peer review within an e-learning environment. In ICERI2011 Proceedings CD, International Association of Technology, Education and Development (IATED), Melia Castilla Convention Centre, Madrid, pp. 2609-2619.

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Abstract

At the international level, the higher education sector is currently being subjected to increased calls for public accountability and the current move by the OECD to rank universities based on the quality of their teaching and learning outcomes. At the national level, Australian universities and their teaching staff face numerous challenges including financial restrictions, increasing student numbers and the reality of an increasingly diverse student population. The Australian higher education response to these competing policy and accreditation demands focuses on precise explicit systems and procedures which are inflexible and conservative and which ignore the fact that assessment is the single biggest influence on how students approach their learning. By seriously neglecting the quality of student learning outcomes, assessment tasks are often failing to engage students or reflect the tasks students will face in the world of practice.

Innovative assessment design, which includes new paradigms of student engagement and learning and pedagogically based technologies have the capacity to provide some measure of relief from these internal and external tensions by significantly enhancing the learning experience for an increasingly time-poor population of students. That is, the assessment process has the ability to deliver program objectives and active learning through a knowledge transfer process which increases student participation and engagement. This social constructivist view highlights the importance of peer review in assisting students to participate and collaborate as equal members of a community of scholars with both their peers and academic staff members. As a result of increasing the student’s desire to learn, peer review leads to more confident, independent and reflective learners who also become more skilled at making independent judgements of their own and others' work.

Within this context, in Case Study One of this project, a summative, peer-assessed, weekly, assessment task was introduced in the first “serious” accounting subject offered as part of an undergraduate degree. The positive outcomes achieved included: student failure rates declined 15%; tutorial participation increased fourfold; tutorial engagement increased six-fold; and there was a 100% student-based approval rating for the retention of the assessment task. However, in stark contrast to the positive student response, staff issues related to the loss of research time associated with the administration of the peer-review process threatened its survival.

This paper contributes to the core conference topics of new trends and experiences in undergraduate assessment education and in terms of innovative, on-line, learning and teaching practices, by elaborating the Case Study Two “solution” generated to this dilemma. At the heart of the resolution is an e-Learning, peer-review process conducted in conjunction with the University of Melbourne which seeks to both create a virtual sense of belonging and to efficiently and effectively meet academic learning objectives with minimum staff involvement. In outlining the significant level of success achieved, student-based qualitative and quantitative data will be highlighted along with staff views in a comparative analysis of the advantages and disadvantages to both students and staff of the staff-led, peer review process versus its on-line counterpart.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 48904
Item Type: Conference Paper
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Student engagement and collaboration, assessment, peer review, e-Learning
ISBN: 9788461533244
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > ACCOUNTING AUDITING AND ACCOUNTABILITY (150100)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > ACCOUNTING AUDITING AND ACCOUNTABILITY (150100) > Accounting Auditing and Accountability not elsewhere classified (150199)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Accountancy
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Please consult the author.
Deposited On: 01 Mar 2012 08:35
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2012 09:49

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