Dr Christine van Vliet, School of Medical Sciences
Group and Team Based Approaches to Assessment
I was given the convening position of pathology Path 3206 in 2009, and that year when I ran the course I just found that the tutorials weren't running smoothly. Students weren't doing the pre-reading; they weren't interacting with me. And also at the end of the course, when I had the end of, final exams, some students failed the course, and this was a second semester third year course, so that had a big impact on them and a big impact on me.
So I thought, well, I did the FULT training course, and I thought, "How can I improve it?" And so for me personally when I was a student at university I studied in study groups. So I thought if I could encourage these students to form study groups, then they will prepare for the tutorials and they will do better in the end-of-course exam. And an article was circulated by Learning and Teaching on team learning which was by a guy Professor Larry Michaelson, who was a Professor of Management at the University of Oklahoma, and I thought that—having—and part of team based learning was tem quizzes, and I thought if I introduced team quizzes to the tutorials, that would help the students see the benefit of working in study groups, because doing a quiz as a team, they'll see that all the people have had different experiences and have studied different things and can contribute more, so that they can see the benefits of working in teams and studying in teams as a study group.
So that's how I came about introducing team quizzes to Path 3206.
Challenges in Using Team Quizzes
The feedback I got from students was, the brighter students did resent having—they felt that some of—in their teams, the teams relied heavily on them to do the explaining, and they relied on them in answering some of the multiple choice questions as well.
It didn't benefit the high achieving students as much as the other students. And also some students complained about, that they were allocated into teams and they would have preferred [choosing their own] teams. And that was more actually in relation to doing the teamwork project than actually the team quizzes. They were quite happy to be allocated into teams for team quizzes because the team, they do an individual quiz for 5 minutes and a team quiz for 8 minutes, so it's a very short period of time. But the team project, which was worth I think 20%, and which ran over the semester, they would have preferred to have chosen their own teams for that, yeah.
So for the second time I ran it I gave them the option of choosing their teams for the team project. It was more work for grading. So I had to enter both their team quiz mark and their individual mark for every tutorial quiz. So it was a lot more data entry for me. But, I think, it was definitely worth it. And that could be minimised if you actually had the quizzes on computer, so that was something I was thinking of doing. But I only have a small cohort of students, so, yeah...
Strategies for Team Quizzes
So we put a few strategies in place to introduce the team quizzes. When I was putting together the student manual, I went to their textbook and decided what pre-reading was for each tutorial, and I put that in the manual, and I told the students that the quiz will be directly related to that pre-reading. And I didn't relate it so much to the lectures, even though there was an overlap, because I know that students work and can miss lectures, so I didn't want them disadvantaged at all. I knew they all had their textbook so they could all do the pre-reading and that the quizzes would be directly based on that. So if they did the pre-reading that they could get full marks for the quiz. So that was one.
I allocated them into teams of about 5 to 6, and that was really based on—that was recommended, actually, in the team based learning guidelines to do that. And then I also gave them—we had past exam papers available online, so within the tutorials I broke up questions relevant to each tutorial, so that they could see what they were trying to achieve in that tutorial. And then I encouraged them to go through those past exam questions in their teams, as well.
And then we also decided to, as a motivating factor, to give them an overall prize, for the best performance in team quizzes, which was $50 each team member. And that was actually very good, because it got some competition going. And even though I numbered the teams, like, 1 to 10, they started calling their teams names and started to compete with each other. So it sort of got some competition going.
Benefits of Team Quizzes
Oh, the benefits—it was just amazing. The difference—I can't tell you the difference. From a tutorial where I am just standing up there asking them questions and them just staring back at me looking blank and just waiting for me to answer it, to students coming to the tutorial with their textbooks with little post-it notes, all having read it, then sitting down. They do the quiz individually, and then they do it as a team, and as a team there is so much noise! They are all discussing, they are arguing, they are interacting, they are explaining and then we finally go through the answers and they can quote the textbook back to me. And that, honestly, did not happen before. And that was just so rewarding and gave me so much pleasure. And because I had that, then my interaction with the students was improved, like, I felt really proud of them, and I said "Oh you're doing such good work." And so I think it just got better and better. The relationship got better. Whereas I didn't really interact that much with the students beforehand. I would ask them questions and they wouldn't answer them so I'd end up answering them. Now it's this huge conversation, and we are all on the same page, and it was much—it was a really rewarding experience for me. I just loved it, yeah. And I felt that, even if it didn't improve the academic performance I would do it, because it was just—the tutorial experience was so much more—so enhanced by having these team quizzes. And having the students be prepared was great.
We compared student's marks in their courses that they had done prior to 3206, the pathology courses, and then how they went in the Path 3206 exams. So the lowest quintile did better, but also the second-highest quintile did better—and I think the second-highest quintile did better because there was some competition.
Another benefit of the team quizzes was because it broke the course up into smaller chunks, so that once they had mastered one part of the course they could move on to the next part of the course. And they felt better prepared, I think, for the end-of-course exam. And one surprising outcome was that all students turned up for the end-of-course exam—I had no students be sick on the day—and I think that was because they felt well-prepared.
And I asked them did they feel over-assessed, 'cause they had, like, six quizzes and then they had a mid-session and I said, "Have I give you too much?" and they said no. They actually liked having this continual assessment and being able to interact with their peers.
And the other major thing, too, which I didn't discuss, was, they loved having things explained to them by their peers—not so much by me, because I've been using all this medical jargon for so long I'm unaware that I'm using it. But when their peers explain it to them, they explain it at a much simpler level and not using any jargon, and they felt that that was beneficial for them.
Team and Individual Quizzes
My name is Dr Christine van Vliet. I'm a lecturer with the School of Medical Sciences. I introduced TIQ, which is Team and Individual Quizzes, to PATH 3206 in 2010. This approach was informed by team-based learning, which was developed by Professor Larry Michaelson, of the University of Oklahoma.
Students were allocated into teams and given pre-reading for each tutorial. In the tutorial, students completed an individual quiz, and then re-sat the quiz as a team
[In-class video, Dr van Vliet says: "Okay, so you've got 5 minutes, starting now." Students begin work on the individual quizzes. Students discuss how they will answer the questions as a group.]
After introducing TIQ, no student failed, an improvement on previous years. Students in the lowest quintile performed significantly better in the end-of-course exam compared to their performances in previous pathology courses.
Overall, students were very satisfied with TIQ. 78% found that team quizzes were useful for learning. 83% found TIQ increased peer interaction. 75% thought TIQ should be introduced to all pathology courses. These quotes demonstrate that students reported a number of benefits from learning with their peers. [Comments: "Thinking things through with peers" "Having peers explain processes" "You could hear other people's rationalisation in answering questions" "Encourages a bit of competition = better marks" "Able to work through questions together, easier to remember afterwards"]
Student: Definitely prefer to have team quizzes in the tutorial time. It makes me keep up with my studies, it makes me revise before the tutorial if I know that I have a quiz—the times that we don't have quizzes in other courses, I might put it away until next week, or, you know, another week. Definitely with quizzes it makes me want to study because I don't want to lose any marks throughout this semester. Yeah, I think they were very useful. Yeah, it was definitely helpful. If there was something that I didn't know and another team member was able to explain it to me it would stick.
Dr van Vliet: TIQ also improves students' perception of their tutors, as can be seen in this tutor evaluation [2 graphs, "Pre=TIQ" and "TIQ"] , where 75% of students strongly agreed that their tutors performed well, compared to only 30% before TIQ. Tutors also found TIQ useful.
Tutor: I was first introduced to team-based learning in 2010. I was a tutor for Pathology 3206. As a student I never experienced any sort of team-based learning before, and so when Christine presented it to me, I was a little bit anxious. I conducted the team-based learning style, and to my surprise, actually, all the students improved their scores, academically, compared to their individual tests. Not only that, but you could see that there was a lot of engagement between the students. There was that discussion, and they were eagerly awaiting their score, and eagerly awaiting whether their score was going to better than the other team as well. So overall as a learning strategy and a tutorial tool, I think I would really, really highly recommend it
Dr van Vliet: Why did TIQ work? TIQ ensured student accountability. Students felt obliged to do the pre-reading so that they could contribute to the team quiz. It also increased peer teaching, which increased retention of information. It broke the course up into chunks, which made it easier for students to master the information.
I would like to acknowledge the following people for their contribution:
- PATH3206 students and tutors, including Valentina Nikiforova and John Ng
- Dr Helen van Vliet (ACU)
- Dr Peter van Vliet
- Dr Helen Scicluna
- A/Prof Gary Velan
- Prof Rakesh Kumar
- Prof Denis Wakefield
- UNSW L&T and FULT
- ALTC seeding grant