“Greater Than the Sum of the Parts?” Examining the Soundness of Collaborative Exams in Teacher Education Courses

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Promoting collaboration skills and dispositions is widely encouraged currently in the field of teacher preparation. However, very few university classrooms incorporate collaboration into their assessment practices. One factor may be the perceived potential lack of soundness of such methodologies. This study is a qualitative examination of the soundness of collaborative essay exams conducted at 2 large teacher-credentialing institutions. The construct of soundness was defined within a four-dimensional framework consisting of validity, reliability, efficiency, and effect on the learner. The results of the study suggest that the collaborative assessment conditions compared favorably on all 4 dimensions of soundness. Participants felt that the collaborative exams were essentially as “fair” and more valid than individual exams inasmuch as they provided a context that was more closely aligned with actual effective teaching practice. Moreover, participants reporting being more motivated to study, thinking more critically and learning more in the process.

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