New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Assessing Collaborative Learning Outcomes in High-Stakes Tests: Design and Evaluation of a Two-Stage Examination

Julian A. Tanner, University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong)


A common learning outcome across many science courses is to encourage students to learn in collaboration with peers. However, typically the high-stakes test which frequently comprises the majority of assessment weighting is a traditional examination where the student works entirely independently. Such an examination can neither align with learning outcomes relating to collaboration, and nor does it make sense to our everyday experience of difficult tasks. Typically the best option when confronted with a difficult task is to work together with others to come to a solution. Building on previous studies pioneered by Carl Wieman and others, we have designed and evaluated a two-stage examination in an advanced biomedical sciences course at the University of Hong Kong. In the examination students performed the examination initially alone, then repeated particularly challenging parts of the paper in small teams. The approach was evaluated through a learning questionnaire and through semi-structured interviews. Evaluation of impact on student learning was also measured through comparison of marks between individual and group stages. Student evaluation of the two-stage examination was positive across a range of question items, in particular as an approach to provide immediate student feedback and build a learning community even within the examination hall. Two-stage examinations are highly recommended as an approach to improve student learning and feedback. Crucially, two-stage examinations can align examinations with collaborative learning outcomes which are so relevant to achieving difficult tasks in our everyday experience.  

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