Peer assessment of professional behaviours in problem-based learning groups.
CONTEXT: Peer assessment of professional behaviour within problem-based learning (PBL) groups can support learning and provide opportunities to identify and remediate problem behaviours. OBJECTIVES: We investigated whether a peer assessment of learning behaviours in PBL is sufficiently valid to support decision making about student professional behaviours. METHODS: Data were available for two cohorts of students, in which each student was rated by all of their PBL group peers using a modified version of a previously validated scale. Following the provision of feedback to the students, their behaviours were again peer-assessed. A generalisability study was undertaken to calculate the students' professional behaviour scores, sources of error that impacted the reliability of the assessment, changes in student rating behaviour, and changes in mean scores after the delivery of feedback. RESULTS: Peer assessment of professional learning behaviour was highly reliable for within-group comparisons (G = 0.81-0.87), but poor for across-group comparisons (G = 0.47-0.53). Feedback increased the range of ratings given by assessors and brought their mean ratings into closer alignment. More of the increased variance was attributable to assessee performance than to assessor stringency and hence there was a slight improvement in reliability, especially for comparisons across groups. Mean professional behaviour scores were unchanged. CONCLUSIONS: Peer assessment of professional learning behaviours may be unreliable for decision making outside a PBL group. Faculty members should not draw conclusions from peer assessment about a student's behaviour compared with that of their peers in the cohort, and such a tool may not be appropriate for summative assessment. Health professional educators interested in assessing student professional behaviours in PBL groups might focus on opportunities for the provision of formative peer feedback and its impact on learning.
Crossley, James, GM