Collaborative Learning and Assessment at the Open University (CoLAB) Project

This spring myself, Denise and Graham began work on the Collaborative Learning and Assessment (CoLAb) project. This sought to provide strategic information about the practice and effectiveness of collaborative learning and assessment at the OU and followed on from a 2014 White Paper by Whitelock and Cross (2014).

The internal report is now published and investigates three specific aspects of computer supported collaborative assessment and learning:

1. What impact does collaborative activity have on student satisfaction and pass rates?
2. What are the characteristics of effective and less effective uses of collaborative learning and assessment?
3. Do students want to see more collaborative learning, group working and peer assessment in their modules?

The first section looks at the student view on collaboration as represented by data from a question in the university’s annual student experience questionnaire  (‘Taking part in collaborative activities with other students helped me to learn’). This part of the analysis uses the ‘not applicable/not used’ option to interrogate the data in new ways and to contrast student perceptions from different discipline areas. It also outlines findings from a recent IET pass rates project. One interesting findings was the variation in use and satisfaction with collaborative assessments between subject areas.

The second question was examined by analysing fifteen modules that used collaborative learning and assessment. Eight of the case study modules were of modules where a high proportion of students felt the collaborative activities had helped them learn whilst the other seven modules had lower levels of satisfaction. Section 3 reports key findings from the analysis of the module case studies and the challenges encountered when compiling this data.

The final question used data from the recent SEFAR student survey (Student Experience of Feedback, Assessment and Revision) (Cross, Whitelock & Mittelmeier, 2015). At the request of this project, the student survey included questions about collaboration and about peer assessment.

The report concludes with a discussion, key findings and recommendations.

The final report is available to OU staff at: Cross, S., Whitelock, D., and Healing, G. (2015) Collaborative Learning and Assessment (CoLAb) Project: Final Report. September 2015. The Open University.  If you are not at the OU but are interested in our findings then please do drop me a line.


  1. Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: