The Edinburgh Physics Education Research Group (EdPER) has won the Formative e-Assessment category at this year's Scottish e-Assessment Awards.
The entry, submitted by the School's Simon Bates, Ross Galloway and Karon McBride, described assessed assignments that use PeerWise, an online question sharing and peer review application developed by the University of Auckland.
'Using PeerWise for Formative Peer e-Assessment in Introductory Physics Courses' reported on the successful use of scaffolded tasks in two introductory-level physics courses. Instructional scaffolding gives students additional support when new concepts are first introduced, with the support gradually reduced as student learning progresses.
"The biggest benefit was writing questions and having to put a lot of thought in to explain the problem to other people. It really helped my understanding of parts of the subject." Student workshop participant
The EdPER team developed four scaffolding activities for workshops preceding PeerWise assignments. The initial scaffolding activity was well received, with class leaders reporting a notable 'buzz' during the workshops and many students opting in subsequent workshops to use PeerWise to work collaboratively during break times.
In the post-course survey of students, 65% agreed that developing original questions improved their understanding of course topics. One student wrote: "The biggest benefit was writing questions and having to put a lot of thought in to explain the problem to other people. It really helped my understanding of parts of the subject."
EdPER is a group of School staff and students that aims to adopt a more scientific approach to Physics and science teaching. The group undertakes evidence-based research into aspects of physics teaching and learning at university level. Our aim is to develop and evaluate research-based instructional strategies, by gathering and analysing both quantitative and qualitative data, with a view to being able to improve student learning in the subject and related cognate areas.
The group was formally established in 2008 and comprises staff from across the various institutes within the School, together with postgraduate students, e-learning developers and learning designers. Some highlights of our recent work have been in the area of developing a diagnostic test of data handling skills and the incorporation of student generated assessment content in introductory courses.
To learn more, speak to Karon McBride, Learning Designer: karon.mcbride [at] ed.ac.uk
The Scottish e-Assessment Awards
Launched in 2009, the Awards recognise excellence and innovation in using e-Assessment to improve the educational experience of learners. More than 50 entries were received in 2011. The judging panel was made up of members of the Board of the UK's e-Assessment Association and Soffed (a partner in the running of the Awards in Scotland). The award was collected at eAssessment Scotland 2011 in Dundee.