Engaging first-year students through online collaborative assessments

D. Kelly, James Baxter, Anthony Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Substantial increases in the size of many undergraduate classes in recent years have limited the ways in which students can engage with their disciplines and become active participants in their learning. This paper presents a methodology which uses a basic WebCT platform to improve the way in which students in large classes learn. The approach, termed the Collaborative Online Assessment approach, provides a structured, scaffolded learning environment for students to engage with their peers in collaborative assessments. Results from a year-long application of the approach with first-year psychology students are presented. These show that the approach facilitates active student engagement throughout the academic year, and is associated with improved marks in the final written exam. This improvement in exam performance is significantly greater for students not intending to major in psychology (traditionally poorer performers).
The paper discusses the implications of these findings in relation to learning theories and provides a critique for further improvement of the approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-548
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Computer Assisted Learning
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • collaborative online assessment
  • large undergraduate classes
  • student attainment
  • student engagement
  • WebCT-blackboard

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