Introduction to SPARKPLUS
SPARKPLUS has now been helping university academics to improve group and collaborative work learning and student’s learning experience internationally for over 20 years.
This web site will help you learn more about SPARKPLUS, including information about it's features and pedagogical rationale for it use.
SPARKPLUS supports and facilitates group work and many collaborative and flipped learning and assessment activities, including:
- self and peer assessment of individual contribution to a group project/task
- self and peer assessment of individual work
- academic standards, judgement, knowledge and assessment benchmarking
- in class collaboration (clicker)
- collaborative multiple-choice multiple attempt, with immediate feedback functionality.
Group Contribution Mode
The most popular and widely available mode in SPARKPLUS is the group contribution mode. It is the only tool that promotes academic honesty through its capacity to discourage and detect free riders, saboteurs and non-contributors and mitigate their impact on the self and peer assessment process.
“Group projects aren't fair” is a frequent student response in higher education. Group work is used to facilitate peer learning and encourage students to develop collaboration, crucial graduate attributes. Since assessment strongly influences learning, any course objective to improve peer learning and/or collaboration must have assessment that promotes it.
Self and peer assessment is a valid solution for promoting these objectives and overcoming potential inequities of equal marks for unequal contributions. Group members are responsible for negotiating and managing the balance of contributions and then assessing whether the balance has been achieved.
Over the last decade our focus in using self and peer assessment has changed from making group work fairer (something it does automatically with careful implementation) to using it to produce formative learning-oriented feedback to complete the learning cycle and encourage the ongoing development of teamwork and professional skills. We have also found self and peer assessment to be a valuable tool to produce learning oriented student centred assessments, facilitate collaborative peer learning and to develop monitor and track students’ attribute development.
Group Contribution Mode Overview
The Group Contribution mode enables students to confidentially rate their own and their peers' contributions to a team project. Being a criteria-based tool SPARKPLUS allows academics the flexibility to choose or create specifically targeted criteria to allow any task or attribute development to be assessed. In addition, SPARKPLUS facilitates the use of common categories, to which academics link their chosen criteria, providing a means for both academics and students to track students’ development as they progress through their degree. SPARKPLUS automates data collection, collation, calculation and distribution of feedback and results.
In the group contribution mode SPARKPLUS produces two assessment factors:
- The Relative Performance Factor (RPF) is a weighting factor determined by both the self and peer rating of a student’s contribution. It is typically used to change a team mark for an assessment task into an individual mark as shown below: Individual mark = team mark * Individual’s RPF
- The Self Assessment to Peer Assessment (SA/PA) factor. This is the ratio of a student’s own rating of themselves compared to the average rating of their contribution by their peers. The SA/PA factor has strong feedback value for development of critical reflection and evaluation skills eg, a SAPA factor greater than 1 means that a student has rated their own performance higher than the average rating they received from their peers and vice versa.
SPARKPLUS allows students to both provide comments to support their own self-ratings and anonymous written feedback to their peers. In addition, it facilitates a number of options for graphically reporting results.