An interview was conducted with Claire Leer, Senior Lecturer in Business School in the first week of January 2020. Claire has been using SparkPlus, another group/peer assessment tool for the last 4 years for her Event Management undergraduate course. It is used in one of the modules consisting of over 100 students. The license is paid for annually by the university and costs about £1500/year. A walkthrough of the SparkPlus tool was given to me during the interview. Key points from the interview:-
– SparkPlus has been useful for Claire. She likes the functionality offered by SparkPlus. The main/unique feature of the tool that she likes is that the tool allows students to provide textual comments in addition to ratings/scores to each other group member. These comments are moderated by Claire and then published anyonymously.
– SparkPlus provides an individual account for each student where he/she can login. The tool is used by Claire in two phases: (a) the students are asked to provide a formative assessment of their peers in the group. This assessment includes rating them using a scale and providing textual comments on their contribution. Claire then organises a meeting with each group to discuss the feedback provided by peers and resolve any issues. (b) the students are asked to provide a summative assessment of the their peers in the group. The scores are generally improved as a result of the formative assessment.
Claire finds the user interface of teh tool quite clumsy and not very intuitive. She was supportive of developing a new in-house tool within the university.