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Motivation in group assessment: a phenomenological approach to post-graduate group assessment

Hannaford, LJ (2017) Motivation in group assessment: a phenomenological approach to post-graduate group assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 42 (5). pp. 823-836. ISSN 0260-2938

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Abstract

Whilst group work has many benefits for enhancing collaborative learning, it can cause anxiety in summative assessments when group members do not contribute equal effort. Increasing understanding of student perceptions of group assessment, and in particular their motivation to persevere to overcome the challenges, has the potential to lead to better assessment design and reduce dysfunctional behaviour. This exploratory study borrows from phenomenology to investigate the lived experience of a cohort of post-graduate journalism students at a UK university, who were required to work in small groups to produce a web-based, multimedia journal for a final summative assessment. Using the expectancy-value theory of motivation, this study examines whether students were motivated by the task, and how this might influence their perception of the group assessment experience. The study found that not only was the group motivated by this assessment design, but also, in contrast to much of the literature on group assessment, their experience of group work was defined by harmony, loyalty and an ‘all for one, one for all’ attitude. It is therefore proposed that student groups are less likely to be dysfunctional or dissatisfied with group assessment if the group expects to do well and values the task.

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