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Effects of Behavioral Peer Evaluations On "Free Riders" In Engineering Group Projects
In 2009, Kenneth Reid developed a multi-dimensional survey instrument for freshman to self-evaluate their own performance in team-based engineering projects. Building upon Reid’s instrument, a multiple-choice peer- and self-evaluation assessment was created for Capstone senior design; it is deployable via Learning Management Software. When using this instrument, peer grades were previously collapsed into a single score and shared with students after each major course assignment.
Capstone design is fundamental both to a mechanical engineering student’s education and a department’s accreditation. Students’ ability to work effectively in teams informs ABET Criterion 3 Learning Outcome 5. Numerous studies have investigated the reliability and effectiveness of various peer evaluation techniques and instruments. Commercial engineering team peer evaluation software informed by this work has been developed. However, contrasting the easily deployed peer survey instrument developed following Reid, most commercial peer evaluation software is pay-to-play and too complex for Capstone faculty to deploy. Recently, Tenenberg discussed free-riding in teams as a multi-fold societal issue framed by two facets: monitoring and sanctioning. Peer evaluations do monitor and sanction student team performance. However, giving students a single score or no score at all does not provide enough comprehensive feedback for an under-performing group member to effectively adjust behavior toward success. By contrast, providing students full (anonymized) feedback empowers them to correct weaknesses in their teamwork implementation and further develop skills and strengths over a two-semesters Capstone sequence.
In this study, we investigated the influence of providing detailed peer feedback on individual and Capstone team performance versus providing no peer evaluation feedback to students.