Structured reflective assessment on group work

I lead a large (130+ students) module which involves students working in groups of 4-5 in an online business simulation. One component of the assessment is a 30% individual reflection on the process (not outcomes) of working in a group.  This resource describes the approach to structuring the reflection and how it was assessed. 

What did you do, why did you do it?

I wanted to have an individual assessment as the other assessments on the module were group work, and because reflection is an important part of professional accountants’ continuing professional development (this module is for second year BSc Accounting and Finance and Banking and Finance students). 

However, I knew that reflective writing would be a new concept for some of my students so I wanted to encourage them to reflect more deeply in a structured way, and to give them agency about what aspects of the group work they chose to reflect on. 

The reflection was structured as follows: 

1,000 word limit, no introduction or conclusion 

3 critical incident write-ups on the process of working in a group: 

  1. Something that went really well for YOU PERSONALLY 
  2. Something that did not go well or could have gone better for YOU PERSONALLY
  3. Something that went well or could have gone better for THE GROUP

For each ‘critical incident’, consider the following questions:

  • How did you behave (individually / as a group)? 
  • What can you learn from this about your own / group’s performance? 
  • What would you do differently in the same situation next time?  What lessons have you learned? 

“A critical incident need not be a dramatic event: usually it is an incident which has significance for you. It is often an event which made you stop and think, or one that raised questions for you. It may have made you question an aspect of your beliefs, values, attitude or behaviour. It is an incident which in some way has had a significant impact on your…learning.” (Monash University, 2014) 

Assessment Criteria

Factor  Indicative weighting 
Structure   20% 
Analysis of incidents  40% 
Identification of lessons learned and areas for future development  40% 

In the preparatory lecture, the following resources/models were used to introduce reflection and reflective writing: 

  • Gibbs (1988): Reflective cycle 
  • Knott and Scragg (2013): Reflection-analysis-action 
  • Jasper (2003): ERA experience-reflection-action 
  • Driscoll (2007): What? – So what? – Now what?  

Students did an activity identifying different levels of reflective writing from some excerpts. We also looked at the Skills@Library resource on reflective writing (descriptive-dialogic-critical), which was shared with the students. A sample reflection on one critical incident which was written by the module leader was provided, with annotation of the features which made it a deep reflection. Students chose their own critical incidents and could choose any of the models used in the preparatory lecture, or their own structure, for the assessment. 

What was the impact of your practice and how have you evaluated it?

This approach has been used successfully on other modules within my department.  Student feedback on this module and on the assessment is positive, to such an extent that it won the Dean’s Award for Teaching for very high module evaluation scores, in 2017/18. 

Student performance on this component of assessment has been consistently strong (mean mark 2019/20: 68) and the students have commented that they have used it to develop answers for application forms for placements/summer internships.  

How could others benefit from this example?  

By using the approaches to design and mark their own reflective assessment.  
By using the approaches to prepare students for a reflective writing assessment. 

Author:

Alice Shepherd, A.K.Shepherd@leeds.ac.uk, Associate Professor, Accounting and Finance Division, LUBS

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