An empirical study of gender issues in assessments using peer and self evaluations.
Traditionally, instructors unilaterally assess students' performance. However, increasing use of teaching and learning strategies in which students learn with and from each other may lead to increasing reliance on peer assessments. To this point, the authors of one study believe that peer assessments may replace most of the grading traditionally performed by instructors (Henderson, Rada, and Chen, 1997).
When students conduct peer assessments in collaborative learning environments, they have an opportunity to discuss and analyze each other's performance. Oftentimes instructors cannot observe first-hand the contributions of each group member to a collaborative project work, but peer and self assessments can provide a means by which group marks are allocated among the members of a group based on their relative contributions. However, moving students into the realm of grading raises questions about the validity of those marks and whether the gender of the raters and ratees affect the marks given and received (Ghorpade and Lackritz, 2001; Falchikov and Magin, 1997; Sherrard, Raafat, and Weaver, 1994).
Where actual differences in performance exist between male and female students, evaluations may validly capture those differences because they affect the nature of the contribution that a group member may make to the collaborative learning experience. Within medical education, several studies found that women were more skilled at eliciting concerns from patients and were more empathetic in consultations (Bean and Kidder, 1982; Marteau et al., 1991, Wasserman et al., 1984; Weisman and Teitlbaum, 1985).
Other literature suggests that women tend to be more open to other perspectives and incorporate the perspectives of others with their own, whereas men tend to focus more on their own perspective (Baxter Malgoda, 1992; Belenky et al., 1986). These gender characteristics might suggest that cooperative learning projects could be more appealing to female students as compared to male students. If a preference for this type of learning leads female students to have more enthusiasm about the collaborative activities, female students may contribute more to the group effort on average as compared to the male students.
Other variables may also affect the ratings given to male and female peers. Research pertaining to gender communication patterns in higher education suggests that males may receive more attention in classes than females by dominating classroom discussions (Simonds and Cooper, 2001; Brazelton, 1998; Kramarae and Treichler, 1990). This could give rise to a "halo effect" (Cascio, 1998), whereby the raters knowledge of the ratee's achievement on one dimension (classroom participation) influences performance ratings in another area. This could lead to male students receiving higher peer ratings on average than female students, regardless of the gender of the rater. Based on these studies, we raise our first research question, are there gender differences in peer assessments of team members?
Some researchers report evidence that teachers devalued the performance of students who are the same gender as the instructor relative to the performance of students who are the opposite gender from the instructor (O'Neill, 1985). Another study found that women in a class gave student group presentations higher ratings than the men did (Sherrard, Raafat, and Weaver 1994). The authors also posit that women may have higher empathy for their peers than men do and that this could be a reason for the disparity in the peer assessments.
Where peer assessments affect a significant proportion of the total marks for a course, we believe it is valuable to conduct analyses to detect whether gender bias exists in students' peer assessments. Only one study, to our knowledge, employs a cross-gender/same-gender analysis of peer assessments by comparing two sets of ratings (one from same gender and one from opposite gender) on the same students to determine whether significant differences exist in student peer assessments (Falchikov and Magin, 1997). Where Falchikov and Magin (1997) used data from groups that performed an assessment of their group members just once during the term, our study uses data from the third assessment performed by the groups during a term. Some literature suggests that the reliability of scoring improves if students assess each other at multiple stages rather than simply at the end of a project (Bacon, Stewart, and Silver, 1999).
Falchikov and Magin (1997) examined two cases. One case was a first-year science and technology course where students were assigned to projects on the basis of the topics those students selected. The other case involved data from a first-year graduate medical course on clinical and behavioral studies where students were placed in tutorial groups that lead to the production and presentation of a group report. Neither case resulted in evidence of gender bias, but further research seems warranted since peer assessments may be sensitive to the context in which they are performed. This leads us to our second research question, is there gender bias in peer assessments?
In a study that examined self assessment, Sherrard, Raafat, and Weaver (1994) found that self-assessment scores for group presentations were approximately 4.5% higher than the peer assessment scores of those same presentations. However, the study did not indicate whether or not gender differences existed in the self-assessment scores. When student self assessments are included as factors in determining the allocation of a group's marks to individual students, educators may also want to implement checks to identify gender differences in self assessments. Thus, we pose our third research question, are there gender differences in self assessment?
When evaluating our three research questions, we looked at both a global measure of performance and six specific work behaviors. While it may be difficult for us to know the exact nature of the reasons for gender differences that may exist in the peer or self assessments performed by our students, these tests may allow us to identify some of the attributes that affect the differences, if any, in the overall performance ratings.
The data for this study came from the third set of self and peer assessments completed by students enrolled in a required, introductory, cross-disciplinary business course. The course was team taught and used a business simulation game as the primary pedagogical tool to engage students in making business decisions for their group's company. Six professors (three male and three female) taught in the course. The course consisted of three modules: accounting, marketing, and management. So each student saw three of the course professors during the semester. Every student saw at least one male professor and at least one female professor during the first term of the course.
There were 12 sections of the course, and each section had 5 student groups (with 4 to 7 members in each group), resulting in 60 teams or groups. However, only 59 teams completed the self and peer assessments in the third round of evaluations. In addition to completing a self-assessment, each student also completed an assessment for each of their group members. Three hundred thirty students completed this final set of evaluations resulting in 330 self assessments and 1592 peer assessments (for a total of 1602 evaluations). Of the 330 respondents, 120 were female and 210 were male. Each group contained both male and female students.
The course was required for all business majors in the first semester of their freshman year. Transfer students were generally waived out of the course. Of the students included in the sample, 89.5 percent were freshmen, 8.7 percent were sophomores, and 1.9 percent were juniors. When classified by major, the largest group of students was business undecided (35.3 percent). Of the remainder, 16.8 percent were management/entrepreneurship majors, 15.0 percent were marketing/advertising majors, 8.0 percent were computer information systems majors, 7.4 percent were accounting majors, 6.5 percent were finance majors, 6.2 were international business majors, and the remaining 5.6 percent were other majors.
Each of the three modules contained at least one group project. Overall, these projects accounted for 31.25% of the course grade. In the accounting module, each group created a balanced scorecard strategy map for its firm in the simulation and analyzed the firm's performance in an oral presentation to the class. In the marketing module, each group designed a marketing plan for its simulation firm and presented that plan to the class. In the management module, each group designed a strategic plan and presented it to the class.
At the end of each module (three different points during the term), students completed a peer evaluation packet. The packet consisted of a cover sheet (Exhibit 1) that offered instructions on how to complete the packet and explained that the evaluations would be anonymously shared with their group members. The second page of the peer evaluation packet was an illustration of a completed feedback grid (Exhibit 2). Subsequent pages in the packet contained blank feedback grids so that the rater could complete one for each member of the team including himself/herself. The instructors of the course designed the assessment criteria based on conversations with students from the prior year about desirable or undesirable behaviors associated with team members.
Each student completed his/her evaluation packet outside of classroom hours. Each student placed his/her evaluation packet in a sealed envelope, wrote his/her name, the course section, and the name of the team on the outside of the envelope, and gave that envelope to the module instructor after the completion of the group project and presentation. After receiving the packet, instructors and a graduate assistant verified that the correct total number of points (equal to the number of team members times 100) was distributed among all team members, that the rating given to an individual on the cover sheet matched the rating given to that same student on the comment/feedback grid, and then re-assembled these evaluations so that a student would receive his/her cover sheet and the feedback grids that each of his/her teammates completed to evaluate him/her as well as the grid that he/she completed to rate himself/herself. The average of those scores for that individual appeared on the bottom of the cover sheet. This average was used as a weight to determine the individual's grade on the group work. If a group earned a 90 on its project and a particular student in that group received an evaluation from peers and self of 90 points, then that individual received an 81 as a grade on the project. In some cases, students received grades in excess of 100 points.
Table 1 offers a matrix with the average ratings received in peer assessments by gender of the rater. The top left group shows 100.36 as the average rating received by female students from female raters (F X Fr). In the next row, 100.49 is the average rating received by female students from male raters (F X Mr). The bottom left score of 100.44 is the average rating given to female students by all peer team members regardless of gender. The mean rating received by females from other females was not significantly different from the mean rating they received from males (t=-0.222, p=.825). The middle column shows that male students received a mean rating of 98.41 from females and 99.05 from males with a mean score of 98.83 from all peers. Again, the mean rating received by males from females was not statistically significant from the mean rating males received from males (t=-0.888, p=.359).
The gender difference in the average performance ratings of 1.61 points favoring female students, when comparing XF to XM, was statistically significant (t=3.577, p=.000). However, examination of the two diagonals of Table 1 reveals a lack of gender bias in the rating behavior of the students. The average rating received by students from raters who were of the opposite gender was 99.44. The average rating received by students from raters who were of the same gender was 99.38. The point difference of 0.06 was not statistically significant (t=-0.140, p=.889).
The evaluation forms also prompted raters to consider a list of individual work behaviors, such as promptly attending meetings, delivering work in complete fashion, meeting deadlines, volunteering for tasks, pulling fair share, and demonstrating a positive and enthusiastic attitude. Raters marked each of these criteria between 1 (never) and 5 (always) and some provided open-ended feedback on each dimension. Although scores on these individual performance criteria did not enter into the grading process, raters may have considered these marks in determining the overall performance ratings given to their team members. Table 2 indicates that gender differences existed along each of the individual evaluation criteria that appeared on the evaluation forms. Females received higher evaluations than males. When grouped on whether or not the rater was the same gender as the person being evaluated, the ratings on these individual evaluation criteria are not significantly different. Thus, no gender bias was evident.
Since the evaluation forms also offered raters an opportunity to provide open-ended comments on each of the six individual criteria (that are listed in the left column of Table 2), we tested for gender differences in the nature of that feedback (positive, negative, or mixed) and the frequency of that feedback. If the open-ended remarks by the rater were "clearly positive," the authors coded the category as positive. If the remarks were "clearly negative," the authors coded the category as "negative." If the remarks included both positive and negative feedback or included feedback that was not clearly positive or negative, the authors coded the category as "mixed." Since the variable in Table 3 is a frequency count across six categories, the variable can range from zero to six. The first row of Table 3 shows that females received positive remarks in an average of 1.796 of the six categories, whereas males received positive feedback in an average of 1.523 of these six categories. The difference, favoring female students, is statistically significant (t=2.649, p=.008). However, differences in the frequency of negative feedback (t=0.885, p=.376) or mixed feedback (t=-0.689, p=.491) were not statistically significant. The bottom row of Table 3 ignores the nature of the feedback and shows that females received feedback across a higher number of categories than male students evaluated by their peers. This difference was statistically different (t=2.335, p=.020).
When the data was grouped by whether the gender of the rater is the same or different than the gender of the evaluator, the results show that more mixed feedback is received when the rater is of the same gender. The mean frequency of mixed feedback was 0.120 for the same gender and 0.078 for the opposite gender (t=2.181 and p=.029). However, there was no evidence of gender bias in tests examining the frequency of positive, negative, or total feedback.
When the data was grouped by the gender of the rater, the results showed that females gave more total feedback (mean of 2.070 for female raters and 1.838 for male raters; t=2.152, p=.032) and females also gave more positive feedback than male raters (mean of 1.757 for female raters and 1.544 for male raters; t=2.103; p=.036). No statistical differences were found for mixed (t=-0.705, p=.481) or negative feedback (t=1.004, p=.316) by gender of the rater. When the ratings on individual performance criteria are grouped by the gender of the rater, the only statistically significant difference was for "pulled fair share with regard to overall workload." Females are less generous than males when numerically evaluating the extent to which their peers are doing their fair share (mean of 4.73 for female raters and 4.79 for male raters; t=-2.036, p=.042).
The overall performance ratings given by students when rating themselves (self assessment) ranged from 90 to 150. If a student wished to indicate that each person on the team contributed equally to the performance of the team, then a student would mark a 100 for each team member. Thus, a 90 indicates that the individual recognized that he/she contributed less than his/her "fair share" to the team's performance and a 150 indicates that the individual contributed far beyond what others did in the group. The mean self assessment score was 103.52. Since this is greater than 100, it indicates that individuals tended to think that they contributed a bit more than an equal share to the team. Table 4 presents the means and t-tests of the self assessments by gender. The mean rating that female students (103.80) gave themselves was not significantly different from the mean rating that male students (103.37) gave themselves (t=0.480, p=.632). Similarly, there were no significant differences between genders for self assessments on the numerical ratings of any of the six individual criteria that appeared on the evaluation form.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
Most students tend to rate themselves as doing slightly more than an equal share of the work. One is reminded of Garrison Keillor's description of Lake Wobegon, where "all the children are above average." However, since we required that each student allocate marks among team members and his- or herself so that the sum of the allocated marks equaled the team size times 100, students are unable to rate all peers above average.
Gender differences are apparent in our data for peer assessments. On average, females scored higher than males, regardless of the gender of the person performing the evaluation. This suggests that there are actual differences in performance between male and female students when working on group projects. This performance difference was captured not only in the overall performance rating received, but also in the ratings for the specific performance criteria of promptly attending meetings, delivering work in complete fashion, meeting deadlines, volunteering for tasks, pulling fair share, and demonstrating a positive and enthusiastic attitude.
Since no statistically significant difference was found between the average numerical rating where the rater was the same gender as the person being evaluated and the average rating where the rater was of the opposite gender from the person being evaluated, there was no evidence of gender bias. This is reassuring in light of the prior research that reported evidence that teachers devalued the performance of students who are the same gender as the instructor relative to the performance of students who are the opposite gender from the instructor (O'Neill, 1985). We did not observe this among the students in this study.
The lack of gender bias in our data could be due in part to the way the groups and the evaluation process were managed. The composition of the teams did not change over the semester (except where students may have dropped out of the course), and the data was drawn from the third set of evaluations. By this point, students were more familiar with group expectations, characteristics of team members and their contributions, as well as the evaluation process itself (since the evaluation form itself never changed during the semester). Some have suggested that reliability in scoring increases when evaluations take place at multiple stages rather than simply at the end of the semester. Previous research has found that free-riding (social loafing) is reduced in multiple stage evaluations (Brooks and Ammons, 2003). Prior empirical studies on peer assessment examined gender only where the evaluation was the first (and last) of the semester. This study is the first to examine gender issues in self and peer assessments where the evaluation data is from a subsequent stage. So it would have been interesting to test whether any gender bias was evident in the first set of evaluations.
This is also the first empirical study of gender issues in peer assessments to examine not only an overall average rating received by peers, but also individual ratings on specific criteria, the frequency of qualitative feedback, and the nature (positive, negative, or mixed) of that feedback. While we find consistency between the performance difference by gender in the overall ratings and the ratings for six specific performance criteria, we also find that females tended to both give and receive more open-ended feedback than male students, and this feedback tended to be positive. The list of performance criteria and the opportunity to evaluate a group member both numerically and descriptively on those criteria may have helped students determine a fair overall allocation of the team's marks. Albert Einstein suggested, "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." By not forcing any formulaic relationship between these specific criteria and the overall rating, students were also allowed to consider other relevant factors that were not listed and to weight the factors in any way they deemed appropriate.
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Janice L. Ammons, Quinnipiac University
Charles M. Brooks, Quinnipiac University
Table 1. Comparison of Peer Assessment Ratings of Overall Performance by Gender. F X Fr = 100.36 M X Fr = 98.41 Xoppgender = 99.44 (n=225) (n= 347) (n=690) F X Mr = 100.49 M X Mr = 99.05 Xsame_gender =99.38 (b) (n=343) (n=677) (n=902) XF = 100.44 XM = 98.83 (a) (n=568) (n=1024) (a) T-test for mean difference of 1.61 between XF and XM is 3.577 (p=.000). (b) T-test for mean difference of 0.06 between Xopp_gender and Xsame_gender is -0.140 (p=.889). F = female student evaluated; M = male student evaluated; Fr = female rater; Mr = male rater; XF = average rating given to female students by any peer rater; XM = average rating given to male students by any peer rater; Xopp_gender = average evaluation received from a student by a peer rater of the opposite gender; Xsame_gender = average evaluation received from a student by a peer rater of the same gender. Table 2. Comparison of Individual Evaluation Criteria Grouped by Gender of the Person Evaluated. Evaluation Criteria Gender of N Mean Std. Person Deviation Evaluated Prompt in attendance at Female 564 4.78 0.562 team meetings Male 1006 4.67 0.784 Delivered agreed upon parts Female 564 4.88 0.420 of project in a complete Male 1006 4.80 0.604 fashion Met deadlines Female 563 4.92 0.384 Male 1007 4.86 0.518 Volunteered appropriately Female 564 4.79 0.539 during team meetings when Male 1006 4.73 0.680 tasks need to be accomplished Pulled fair share with Female 563 4.83 0.506 regard to overall workload Male 1007 4.72 0.704 Showed enthusiastic and Female 563 4.83 0.522 positive attitude about team Male 1003 4.76 0.646 activities and fellow team members Evaluation Criteria Gender of t p-value Person Evaluated Prompt in attendance at Female 3.411 .001 team meetings Male Delivered agreed upon parts Female 2.797 .005 of project in a complete Male fashion Met deadlines Female 2.501 .012 Male Volunteered appropriately Female 2.023 .043 during team meetings when Male tasks need to be accomplished Pulled fair share with Female 3.430 .001 regard to overall workload Male Showed enthusiastic and Female 2.452 .014 positive attitude about team Male activities and fellow team members Table 3: Frequency and Nature of Open-ended Feedback on Six Performance Criteria. Gender of N Mean Std. Person Deviation Evaluated # categories with Female 568 1.796 2.014 positive feedback Male 1021 1.523 1.880 # categories with Female 568 0.180 0.617 negative feedback Male 1021 0.210 0.665 # categories with Female 568 0.111 0.436 mixed feedback Male 1021 0.097 0.356 Total # categories Female 568 2.086 2.147 with feedback Male 1021 1.830 2.013 Gender of t p-value Person Evaluated # categories with Female 2.649 .008 positive feedback Male # categories with Female -0.885 .376 negative feedback Male # categories with Female -0.689 .491 mixed feedback Male Total # categories Female 2.335 .020 with feedback Male Table 4. Comparison of Self Assessment Ratings Gender. Evaluation Criteria Gender n Mean Std. Deviation Overall Evaluation Female 120 103.80 7.765 Male 210 103.37 7.968 Prompt in attendance Female 105 4.86 0.352 at team meetings Male 191 4.82 0.439 Delivered agreed upon Female 105 4.94 0.233 parts of project in a Male 191 4.95 0.212 complete fashion Met deadlines Female 105 4.97 0.167 Male 191 4.95 0.246 Volunteered Female 105 4.91 0.281 appropriately during Male 190 4.91 0.294 team meetings when tasks need to be accomplished Pulled fair share with Female 105 4.91 0.281 regard to overall Male 189 4.93 0.274 workload Evaluation Criteria Gender t p-value Overall Evaluation Female 0.480 .632 Male Prompt in attendance Female 0.811 .418 at team meetings Male Delivered agreed upon Female -0.375 .708 parts of project in a Male complete fashion Met deadlines Female 0.885 .377 Male Volunteered Female 0.256 .798 appropriately during Male team meetings when tasks need to be accomplished Pulled fair share with Female -0.503 .615 regard to overall Male workload Exhibit 1. Cover sheet for team member evaluation packet. Name: Group Name: Section: Date: At three different times during the semester (near the end of each module), you will evaluate each of the members of your team. Fill in an evaluation sheet for each of your team members. All responses should be typed and then printed out. Your evaluation and the evaluations from other members of your group will be returned to the person that is being evaluated. In order for these evaluations to be meaningful, you need to provide your team members with constructive feedback. Let your team members know what they are doing well and what they are not doing well. Also, let them know how they can improve their performance. When the forms are returned to your team members, they will not see your name associated with your comments on their performance. Place your completed Team Member Evaluation Packet in a sealed envelope with your name, your group name, and your SB 101 section letter indicated on the outside of the envelope. The envelope should be turned in on the last day of the module. The points that you award each team member will be used in determining that team members grade on that module's group project. Team members that do not do their fair share of the work may lose points on group work, and team members that do more than their fair share of the work may get extra points added to their group work. On the overall evaluation, you will be "paying" each of your team members with points. You have will have 100 points for each member of your team. For example, if you have 6 members on your team, you have 600 points to allocate. If everyone contributed equally and did his/her fair share of the work, then each member of the team should receive 100 points. If someone did more than his/her fair share of the work, that person should receive more than 100 points. Likewise if someone did less than his/her fair share of the work, that person should receive less than 100 points. After you have completed the individual evaluation forms (including a page for yourself), complete the Summary Table below. Type in your name and your team members' names. Indicate how many points each member of your team should receive. The points in this summary table should match the "pay" you indicated at the bottom of each person's individual page. Add up the points that you have allocated across the columns of the summary table and put this number in the last column. This number should equal 500 points if you have 5 team members or 600 points if you have 6 team members. Summary Table (Complete this Table) Group (Insert (Insert (Insert (Insert Members your name group group group Names here) member's member's member's name here) name here) name here) Allotment of Team Points Group (Insert (Insert TOTAL Members group group TEAM Names member's member's POINTS name here) name here) Allotment of Team Points If you do not feel that your group evaluation average accurately reflects the work that you completed on your group project, you should set up a meeting and talk with your team members. After talking with your team members, if you still do not feel that you have been evaluated fairly, you and your team should schedule a meeting with that module's professor. Exhibit 2. Sample sheet in team member evaluation packet. Team Member's Name: Sample Team Member Evaluation Criteria: For each Provide comments and criteria, constructive feedback rate this in the spaces provided team member below: on a scale of 1 (Never) to 5 (Always) Prompt in attendance at 5 team meetings. Delivered agreed-upon 5 parts of project in a complete fashion Met deadlines. 3 Sample team member was late completing the PowerPoint presentation. He was supposed to complete it on Wednesday afternoon, but he didn't finish until late Thursday night. Volunteered appropriately 4 Sample Team Member was during team meetings when always at the meeting, tasks needed to be but he was not always accomplished. prepared for the meetings and hardly ever had anything to contribute. Sometimes, he just sat there. Pulled fair share with 5 regard to overall workload. Showed enthusiastic and 5 Sample Team Member was positive attitude about always enthusiastic about team activities and how our company was doing fellow team members. financially. Overall Evaluation Based on the points Overall Feedback (this is mandatory): available for the team, I would "pay" this person Sample Team Member was really motivated 85 for his/her share of at first, but at the end of the module, the team points. he let the team down when he was late with the PowerPoint. When he missed his deadline, it meant that the entire team had to stay up all night rehearsing our presentation. Once Sample Team Member knew he was having trouble with his part of the assignment, he should have asked for help.
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|Author:||Ammons, Janice L.; Brooks, Charles M.|
|Publication:||Academy of Educational Leadership Journal|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2011|
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