Paper in Research and
Development in Higher Education
- White, F.A., Lloyd, H., Kennedy,
G. & Stewart. C. (2005). An investigation of undergraduate
students' feelings and attitudes towards group work and group
assessment. Research and Development in Higher Education,
Group-based or co-operative learning can benefit individual
student learning, however, recent verbal feedback from students
at Sydney University about group work was disappointingly negative.
This feedback prompted the present study, which set out to determine
the attitudes of students to group work and group assessment.
Students in Pharmacology (n = 46) and IT (n = 80) were evaluated
at the beginning and end of semester two (2003) using the following
questionnaires: Feelings Towards Group Work (FTGW; Cantwell
and Andrews, 2002) and either, Attitudes Towards Peer Evaluation
(ATPE) or Attitudes Towards Group Work Assessment (ATGA). These
latter two questionnaires were developed for this study. The
two disciplines were chosen as their group work was assessed
differently and it was of interest to determine whether the
differing methods of assessment affected students' attitudes.
At the start of semester all students indicated a neutral to
slightly negative attitude towards individual work but a favourable
attitude towards group work. A significant but small change
in favour of group work was found for Pharmacology students
whereas we found no change in attitude for the IT students.
Interestingly, we found no particular preference for group assessment
that used peer evaluation to obtain individual marks to one
that was based on a shared group mark. In conclusion, despite
concerns expressed in a recent University of Sydney Academic
Board Review about group work and its assessment, this study
reinforces the findings of previous research into group work
suggesting that the experience is generally positive for students.