Staff profiles

Project lead
Dr Tauel Harper
Position
Lecturer
School/area
Social Sciences
Faculty
Arts
Team members
Dr David Savat

Project outline

COMM3003 is a large core unit in UWA's Communication and Media Studies major with typical enrolments of around 150 students. The unit poses students the major group assessment of designing an interactive system in the form of a game. Group work, especially to design a game is a challenging process and requires significant teamwork and project management skills. This project aims to increase overall student satisfaction by improving the self/peer assessment practices in the unit whilst emphasising the importance of project management and teamwork skills taught by the assessment.

Students have tended to underestimate the demands of the group work project and experience conflict within their group due to a failure to manage each other's contributions and reach the timeline for completion. Resulting in negative feedback for the unit, low SURF scores (Students' Unit Reflective Feedback) and complaints made to the UWA Guild about the fairness of this group work and assessment. However, students who do excel in this group work project value the unit very highly. The teaching staff feel that improving students' ability to work as a team and manage a project effectively in this unit will not only significantly increase the student satisfaction for the unit it will also improve students' capacities and skills to ready them for the workforce.

The project will involve developing knowledge and skills in SPARK plus (a UWA licensed self and peer assessment online platform) and determining how best to implement the program within the unit. The project will also implement an assessment-specific survey to assess the impact of the changes to the unit. The Communication and Media Studies major is marketed on producing students who are able to manage and communicate at a high level. By working on developing these skills, the project will improve their employability, the University's reputation and the value of our major.

Project findings

The project successfully met its goals by implementing the SPARKplus peer assessment tool in order to improve group work and increase student SURF survey results for the Communications Unit COMM3003. It achieved both these aims and the associated knowledge of SPARKplus has given a more pedagogically informed approach to peer assessment which has been positive. SURF results improved by at least 5% across all questions (including a move from 2.7-3 in the question ‘Was this unit a good educational experience’) and the quality of the student’s group work also noticeably improved. There are a number of faculty staff now familiar with the SPARKplus platform, with more members of the discipline and school considering using it to assist in group work.

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