Monthly Archives: December 2016

The impact of participating in a peer assessment activity on subsequent academic performance

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Submitted by Julia Brechbiel

Article Reference

Jhangiani, R. S. (2016). The impact of participating in a peer assessment activity on subsequent academic performance. <em>Teaching of Psychology, 43</em>(3), 180-186.

Article DOI

10.1177/0098628316649312

Summary of Article

The article examined the impact of students engaging in a peer assessment activity on subsequent exam performance in an introductory psychology course at a small Canadian public university. Previous research has provided evidence that students who participate in a peer assessment activity benefit by developing a range of behavioral, cognitive, and metacognitive skills (e.g. critical thinking, writing, evaluation, problem-solving, communication, cooperation, improved learning motivation, maturity, confidence, and learning performance). The goal of the current study was to fill a gap in the literature about the long-term effects of peer assessment that involved assigning peers grades.

Two sections of an introductory psychology course served as control and experimental groups. The experimental group completed an in-class practice quiz one week prior to each exam. Practice quizzes consisted of two short-essay questions modelled after exam questions and students had 20 minutes to answer both questions. Immediately afterwards students participated in a five-step double-blind peer assessment activity consisting of two peer assessments, discussion among pairs of peer graders, students review of peer feedback, and discussion with instructor and determination of the final grade (optional). The entire procedure took approximately 40 minutes.

Results indicated that the experimental group scores significantly higher than the control group on the course exams. However, there was no interaction between peer assessment condition and course exams. A series of hierarchical multiple regressions revealed that attendance and online mastery quiz attempts had a positive influence only on the second and third exams while peer assessment condition predicted exam performance for each exam. This provides evidence supporting the beneficial impact of participating in peer evaluation activities on students’ performance on subsequent course exams and that this effect holds after account for attendance and online mastery quizzes.

Discussion Questions

  1. This article reported evidence for the beneficial impact of peer assessment activities on students’ future course work. What are the pros and cons of this type of activity?
  2. In this study, the peer assessment activity took approximately 40 minutes and replaced traditional instructor grading and feedback. Do you agree with this approach? How would you implement peer assessment in future teaching? Or, what were the result if you have implemented peer evaluations in your teaching?
  3. Are there factors that this study did not consider that might influence efficacy or implementation of peer evaluations (e.g. large class size, type of course, level of motivation)?

Problems in the pipeline: Stereotype threat and women’s achievement in high-level math courses

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Submitted by Jaclyn Sadicario

Article Reference

Good, C., Aronson, J., & Harder, J. A. (2008). Problems in the pipeline: Stereotype
<p style="padding-left: 30px;">threat and women's achievement in high-level math courses. <em>Journal of Applied </em></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>Developmental Psychology</em>, <em>29</em>, 17-28.
</p>

Article DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2007.10.004

Summary of Article

<strong>Background</strong>
<ul>
<li>APA Goals for Psychology “Exhibit respect for members of diverse groups with sensitivity to issues of power, privilege, and discrimination.”</li>
<li>There is a performance gap between men and women on mathematics tests.</li>
</ul>
<ul>
<ul>
<li>Negative stereotypes can undermine women's performance on mathematics tests.</li>
<li>Laboratory studies have confirmed stereotype threat; however, relevance in the  “real world” on women's math test performance have not been tested.</li>
<li>This study tested how much stereotype threat affected math test performance in a group of advanced calculus students.</li>
</ul>
</ul>
<strong>Participants </strong>
<ul>
<li>N= 157 advanced calculus students at a large, public university, 67% (100) men, 33% (57) women.
<ul>
<li>Overall: 57% White, 20% Asian, 11% Hispanic, <1% African American, 7% “other”</li>
</ul>
</li>
</ul>
<strong>Materials & Procedure</strong>
<ul>
<li>They designed & piloted a calculus test, aligned with what the students were learning / GRE math.</li>
<li>Students were told this was a review / practice test & that they’d get extra credit for it based on their score (administered at the end of the semester).</li>
<li>Two conditions
<ul>
<li>(ST) Top sheet with “this test will measure your ability” statement (control- stereotype threat condition)</li>
<li>(NST) Top sheet with “this test will measure your ability” then a statement that there are no gender differences in math ability.</li>
</ul>
</li>
<li>Randomized packets were distributed with:
<ul>
<li>Test, demographics survey, post-test questionnaire, and debriefing form.
<ul>
<li>Post-test questionnaire asked how they felt about the test.</li>
</ul>
</li>
</ul>
</li>
</ul>
<strong>Results</strong>
<ul>
<li>NST women outperformed ST women
<ul>
<li>also outperformed both NST & ST men</li>
</ul>
</li>
<li>NST participants were more accurate than ST participants</li>
<li>NST women significantly more accurate than ST women & ST men</li>
<li>Men were more confident than women about their performance regardless of condition</li>
<li>Men and women do not differ on course grades based on gender <strong>HOWEVER</strong>:
<ul>
<li>Course grades under predicted test scores for NST women.</li>
</ul>
</li>
</ul>
<strong>Discussion</strong>

Even women at the upper ends of the ability distribution in college who opt to enroll in the most difficult math courses can be vulnerable to the effects of negative stereotypes.

Discussion Questions

  1. 1. In the chapter on testing, Forsythe talks at length about guidelines for test construction but does not spend much time talking about the atmosphere in which the test is taken. Based on this article, what do you think he should add to an upcoming chapter?
  2. 2. There was a finding that despite performing better, women in the non-threat condition and the women in the threat condition had equal amount of confidence in their work (lower confidence than "male" students). Have you had experience helping students build confidence in their work?
  3. 3. What kind of intervention do you think would be effective in our student populations at VCU? What might be different about our populations than a small, liberal arts school? Sub-question: Do you think take home tests / online tests would help combat stereotype threat? Why?/Why not?

Prezi as a Replacement for PowerPoint Presentations

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Submitted by Christina Barnett

For my technology tool, I learned to use Prezi to create an online supplementary teaching aid to display course content. Prezi is essentially a more comprehensive version of PowerPoint, and is used as a way of visually presenting information. The benefits of the tool are that it is web-based and free. Therefore, it’s not only accessible for instructor use, but for students as well, due to its cost-effective nature.  The most beneficial feature of Prezi is its non-linear formatting. Users can use the zoom feature to adjust the frame of reference, either displaying a pictorial representation of a general overview, or choosing to focus on specific points within subcategories. Essentially, you can choose the progression of which information will be displayed, and can move from idea to idea flexibly. Another benefit of Prezi is its collaborative nature. Up to 10 users can contribute simultaneously, making it an adaptive tool for group work. Prezi is also designed to be more aesthetically engaging than its competitor PowerPoint. The templates and backgrounds provided add greater depth than PowerPoint’s background themes. These aesthetic enhancements may appeal to a student demographic due to its technically savvy design. Perhaps Prezi may bridge the generational divide between instructor and student.

Creating a Redcap Survey for Students Use

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Submitted by Melissa Washington-Nortey

<strong>Introduction </strong>

As a teaching assistant for section 005 of Fall 2016’s life span development course I had to help coordinate debate group meetings and evaluations as well as grade exams and assignments. As part of their regular course assignments students engaged in debates on salient topics with their classmates during some class sessions. Debates count towards 30% of their final grade, 50% of which is assigned by their class mates and another 50% by their debate team mates. In order to facilitate team member debate evaluations, I created a redcap survey which allowed me to collate responses from team members. This was done to reduce the amount of hand calculations involved in the process, provide instant record keeping and hasten feedback to students. The survey was created from scratch in RedCap and the link sent out to specific students after their debate groups had completed respective debates. The process was not without challenge since it represented my first exposure to RedCap. However, overall I enjoyed the opportunity to learn something new and apply immediately. The survey was easy for students to use. A link to this survey is provided below.

 

<strong>Conclusion</strong>

The Survey was used once but thereafter discontinued because students did not fill the forms in a timely manner. A deadline for completing the survey was not provided and this, in addition to the fact that each student was required to fill a separate form of each member of their debate team (although there were only 5 members in each debate team), likely contributed to this delay. I therefore switched to hard copy surveys were more efficient because they could be completed immediately after each debate in class and students were free from thinking about the debate immediately they left the classroom. Thus, students received their grades in without excessive delay. I would recommend that others utilize this method for time sensitive, deadline bound procedures in their classrooms.

 

Link: <a href="https://redcap.vcu.edu/surveys/?s=97TTNN4C49">RedCap survey for PSYC304_005 class</a>

Diigo Outliner

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Submitted by Julia Brechbiel

I created a Diigo account to collect resource and examples while creating an advising syllabus for PSYUGRAD advising. Diigo helped to streamline my research process and allowed me to work on the project from any computer. The ability to make notes, highlight save and tag website and pdf. all in the same window while researching was extremely helpful.

After collecting all the example of advising syllabi, notes, and resources, I used Diigo's outliner to organize the information. The outliner allows the user to drag and drop the sources and highlighted text collection into an outline format. The drag and drop feature is useful for reorganizing the order of information presented and creating subsections within the outline. Diigo made the research phase of this project easier with the outliner helping to present the information and elucidate the next steps for the project. The final outline has two main sections for the advising syllabus and the advising "business plan". The syllabus is intended to be useful for advisors and advisees while the "business plan" is a more departmental facing document about the objectives, goals, and future projects of advising. Using Diigo helped me save time in the research phase so I had more time to create these documents.

Lastly, Diigo allowed me to create a free teacher account. Teacher accounts allow users to create classrooms / groups where members can post bookmarks and topics they would like to share with the class/group. This feature would be helpful for students with projects that involve group work by collaborating without having to send emails or share a google documents.