Using peer assessment and electronic voting to improve practical skills in first year undergraduates


  • Steve Bennett University of Hertfordshire
  • Trevor Barker University of Hertfordshire


The research reported here relates to a three year study into the use of electronic voting and peer assessment in order to improve the performance of large groups of (200+) first year computer science and information technology undergraduates undertaking an electronic media design module. In previous years it had proven difficult for learners following this module to develop good quality practical skills which often resulted in poor results in practical tests. The aim of this study was to improve on these poor results and to try to understand some of the reasons for them. Therefore the module delivery team used electronic voting and a form of peer assessment in order to motivate learners and to engage students more deeply in their learning. It was hypothesised that this would improve higher order thinking skills and lead to improved performance on practical work. In the second year of the study, a significant improvement in mean performance of 6% was achieved (p<0.001) as compared to the previous year' results. This result was reported at the CAA conference in 2011. In the following year a further improvement of 4% was achieved (p<0.001). After the assessment it was decided to gather rich qualitative and quantitative data from students via questionnaires relating to their experiences of the initiative.