SPARK is an acronym for Self and Peer Assessment Resource Kit. There are several modes of operation in SPARKPLUS, hence the ‘plus’ in the name (most people just call it SPARK). The two most popular modes are Group Contribution and Benchmarking. It is best used as a formative assessment tool (not for marks).
- Group Contribution
- Multiple assessor
- Multiple choice (Quiz)
- Survey/Formative Review
In group contribution mode (GCM), students assess both their own and each other’s contribution to the group task. The students rate everyone’s performance against criteria and write comments to explain their ratings. Comments are usually hidden from their peers, reserved for the teacher’s eyes only to encourage honesty. The teacher can then carefully consider the qualitative and quantitative information collected to moderate individual grades if necessary.
Benefits of using SPARKPLUS in group work
- Helps students to make judgments, reflect and understand effective teamwork and feedback
- Promotes more equal and thoughtful participation (fairness)
- Can help identify dysfunctional behaviour to inform the moderation of individual student marks
- Provides insight into the challenges of group-based learning activities as a learning experience
Group contribution mode focusses on the equity and the distribution of effort in a group. The students gauge everyone’s relative contribution to the process of delivering the group task. The ‘ideal’ is when all group members have been judged to have equally contributed.
Nifty features in SPARKPLUS
- Targeted and individualised reminders to non-participants
- The way quantitative measures are mixed with qualitative assessment and feedback
- Variety of feedback options that can be published
- Ability to custom design a task (‘made to order’ learning activities)
- Benchmarking mode – perhaps the only supported tool at UTS that does it.
- Presentation slides used in the LX.lab Technology Showcase Sept 12, 2018.
- An introduction to SPARKPLUS in Group contribution mode can be found on the UTSOnline help and resources site along with a beginners guide to requesting a SPARKPLUS GCM assessment setup for a subject.
- Extra reading ‘Group work enhances the student experience‘