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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, 28, 616-623.

    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.