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Undergraduate Research and Inquiry [clear filter]
Thursday, December 10

11:00am EST

Collaborative Assessment: Research and Implementation Across Faculties at McMaster

Students and instructors typically view tests as dreaded but necessary tools for assessment, with little or no intrinsic learning value. Yet an accumulating body of research indicates that test-taking is a potent pedagogical tool from both a formative and summative perspective. In particular, two-stage collaborative testing, wherein students 1) complete a test alone as they normally would, then 2) form small groups to discuss the same questions and resubmit answers for credit, has recently received much attention from researchers and instructors alike. Each stage contributes to a student’s total test score; generally, the individual stage is more heavily weighted to allay fears of “social loafing”.  This collaborative testing format has many advantages over traditional individual testing. Namely, students are incentivized to consider peer feedback while the information is still fresh in memory, learn to effectively convey their logic to others, and gain the opportunity to incorporate many different perspectives on the same topic. At McMaster alone, collaborative testing has been successfully implemented across a range of grade levels, course sizes, and disciplines, including Engineering, Kinesiology, Nursing, Physics, and Psychology—bringing together instructors from different disciplines to collaborate and refine the theory behind collaborative testing while enhancing the experience from a student viewpoint. Qualitative reviews from students are overwhelmingly positive.

In this presentation, we will introduce the background, context, and theory behind collaborative testing, and discuss the findings from a number of collaborative testing initiatives and related studies that have been undertaken recently at McMaster.


Robert Cockcroft

McMaster University

Kevin Dunn

McMaster University

Joe Kim

McMaster University

Sabrina Kirby

McMaster University

Andrew LoGiudice

McMaster University

Terry McCurdy

McMaster University

Kim Volterman

McMaster University

Thursday December 10, 2015 11:00am - 11:30am EST
Meeting Room A

11:30am EST

Student Engagement Through the Use of a Novel Assessment and Instructional Strategy
A newly developed pedagogical strategy, here referred to as the Graded Response Method (GRM), was applied to a second year Geography course and its impact on student engagement and the promotion of a learning centered environment was assessed. The GRM assessment resembles a multiple choice question except that the choices (i.e., possible responses) require ranking from best to worst. The premise is that students must not only be aware of the rationale to support a correct answer but must also be able to recognize why other options are less appropriate. In addition, the GRM was also assessed for its value as an instructional tool. The method for the delivery of the GRM along with strategies for providing formative feedback will be highlighted. A key approach involved opportunities, during tutorials, aimed at encouraging students to develop their own rationale for the ranking of responses; participation in open discussions with course TAs was actively encouraged. These discussions were meant to serve as a formative means of supporting student learning.  Focus group and survey findings suggest that students’ engagement skills were enhanced and students were also encouraged by the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of course material. Our primary conclusions are: 1- The GRM empowered students to become active contributors in their own learning community & 2- The GRM engaged students in a manner that contributed to the enhancement of course specific skills, in a manner that exemplifies the SoTL philosophy and which supports the promotion of critical thinking skills.


Cristian Altobelli

University of Toronto - Mississauga

Michael deBraga

University of Toronto - Mississauga

Nicole Laliberte

University of Toronto - Mississauga
Nicole Laliberte is an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream in the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto Mississauga. John Paul Catungal is a Lecturer at the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia.

Thursday December 10, 2015 11:30am - 12:00pm EST
Meeting Room A