28 May 2013

Revision lectures! Advanced Accounting Theory and Accounting Information Systems

The Exam Crunch / Formative Meta Assessment 
This is a video of a Formative Meta Assessment practice session otherwise known as the "practice exam crunch". Students are asked to grade past papers and we discuss why they graded as they did. 

Advanced Accounting Theory  
Advanced Accounting Theory Final Revision lectures were split over two days.

Warning: these are both long lectures

Accounting Information Systems
Final Revision lectures - these are not the most fun lectures, but they probably are one of the most important.

Warning: This is a 2 hour revision class. 

-Tetracarbon out.

23 May 2013

Peer ratings in group assessment: How to foster personal responsibility for independent learning

Group assessments breed the problem of free riders.  Each member within the group has varying propensities to do work and different objectives.  If you are lazy and you know it, the chances are that there is somebody in the group who is more hard-working than you are, so there is an incentive to slack off knowing that the hard-working person will probably cover for you as it is in their interests to make sure that the marks are as high as possible.  This is manifestly unfair, and is a problem to teachers as the marks no longer reflect the capabilities of each student within the group.

Yet it is possible to design systems that foster personal responsibility for independent learning. To address the ‘free-rider’ problem, my students are asked to rate each other’s performance on professionalism and effort in a group assignment. This peer grade is then used to weight individual performance within the group; thus each group member receives a mark commensurate to their contribution to the total.

Here's a quick visual overview: 

STEP ONE: Grade the paper as you would normally.

STEP TWO: Students rate each other on their respective performances. I use a simple Likert 1-5 scale where 5 is maximum.  Students should be given some rubric or guide.  The teacher should specify in what circumstances would someone deserve a 5 or in what circumstances would they receive a 1.

STEP THREE: The ratings are then summed and an average rating is awarded to each student.  In this case student A has worked the hardest, and so he receives an average scalar rating of  1.11.

STEP FOUR: The rating is applied as a scalar to the base mark, pushing the hardest working student up and vice versa for those that have not applied themselves.

Safety checks
Wherever there are new rules, enterprising individual may see opportunities to exploit the system.  This is a good thing, because it means that educators have the power to adjust the system to build in effective safety checks.
Self-interest: Students might rate themselves higher
Self-ratings are required to ensure reflection but are ignored
One student might pressure a weaker student into an unfair rating
Ratings are collected during the invigilated final examination, effectively making it a secret ballot to foster honest peer ratings.

Ex ante harassment: Ratings may be used to victimise another student to the point of failing. (How can we avoid a popularity contest)
The algorithm ensures no student can fail solely due to poor peer ratings. 
Ex post harassment: Students target someone that rates them poorly.
Group mark and individual final grades are disclosed, but not the individual peer ratings. 
Ratings come too late to intervene
At mid project, students submit a short self-reflection on the group dynamic. Teachers use this qualitative data to match against quantitative peer ratings to detect unfair collusion.

Task rational: How can we explain this to students?
Students are often suspicious of new assessment mechanisms as ways for teachers to extract more work for little intrinsic reward. Therefore, it is important that you explain that this system reflects rewards in the real world. High wages and success are often achievable by simply being part of a growth industry, but likewise, high performing staff are often usually rewarded well regardless of what industry they join. The design of peer weighted grades refocuses attention on individual learning within the team, as the balance between teamwork and personal responsibility are crucial skills for professional success.

Other Providers
Peer evaluation mechanisms have been about for a long time, so I can not claim this system as being my own. There is a great program out of the UK called Web PA which seeks to do this exact system.

In Australia, there is a program developed at University Technology of Sydney (UTS) called SPARK+.  Spark is quite an impressive piece of software, however is quite complex for teachers to use and the interface could be polished. SPARK is well researched and is methodologically solid and used internationally. If you are doing this for a large number of students, it is probably better to use dedicated software for this purpose.  SPARK is also quite cheap, as I understand the UTS is currently providing the software on a cost recovery basis.

Happy grading one and all
-Tetracarbon out.

Falchikov, Nancy, and Judy Goldfinch. "Student peer assessment in higher education: A meta-analysis comparing peer and teacher marks." Review of educational research 70.3 (2000): 287-322.

Goldfinch, Judy, and Robert Raeside. "Development of a peer assessment technique for obtaining individual marks on a group project." Assessment and evaluation in Higher Education 15.3 (1990): 210-231.

Willey, K. and A. Gardner (2010). "Investigating the capacity of self and peer assessment activities to engage students and promote learning." European Journal of Engineering Education 35(4): 429-443.

18 May 2013

More coming soon

My dear neglected personal blog. 

I've been rather busy of late, but there has come a need to start publishing a lot of my old work into a coherent portfolio.  Much of that was mostly used "internal documentation" - meaning it has a specific audience with no need to rigorously back every statement.

But that's about to change. Work that is 2 or 3 years old is about to get  rehashed for a broader audience and become publicly available. So the spate of publishing isn't going to be because I've been particularly busy of late (I'm always busy) but more so because it's worth pulling together. 

There's more coming soon. 

-Tetracarbon out

03 May 2013

What I got up to in April 2013


  • I got published in the Higher Ed section of the Australian Newspaper! Article: "No TAFE student ever asked the way to the bar" April 09, 2013 
  • I completed the PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) Mentor training which now accredited me to look after "PASS Leaders". This means that I am accredited to train and guide students who are paid to mentor/tutor other students. 
  • I marked a zillion assignments. 
  • Participated in peer-reviews of colleagues teaching for their Grad Cert in Tertiary Teaching at the University of Melbourne.
  • Recorded two new videos:
    • The drunk man's random walk down Wall St.
    • Fishing sustainably 
    • (Both videos need cutting and editing)
  • Trailed new classroom activity where students mark past students exam papers and give their reasoning. 
  • I managed not get told off for bringing beer bottles (empty) and play dough into the classroom (again). 
  • I received a rather lovely reference letter from the dean. (I'll frame that one)
  • Reworked the blog and did a general cleaning up 
  • Wrote a blog post on recording neat HD video using an iPhone and bulldog clips
  • Started to collect a portfolio of evidence for the OLT application. 
  • Taught our CEO(!) how to use voice recognition software.

Evidence & illustrations below

Yes, I actually claim responsibility for making this awful meme.

Me getting up to mischief while recording a video "the drunk man's random walk down wall st"
That's my Accounting Theory class on the right hand side.

A rather nice reference letter.