UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Collaborative assessment in middle school mathematics Dick, Catherine Anna Louise


This study examined the mathematical learning that grade 8 students demonstrated when they were given the opportunity to work collaboratively, with a teacher-assigned partner, on an in-class assessment. In addition to topic-specific concepts, skills, and procedures, mathematical learning also included more general abilities such as selecting strategies, developing plans, communicating ideas, and evaluating solutions. The primary sources of data for this study were the conversations and written papers of four “equal status” dyads as they worked on a problemsolving assessment in which they were encouraged to discuss their ideas and submit a joint solution. Analysis indicated that most dyads worked collaboratively throughout the task and that both students were relatively equal contributors to the joint solution. Therefore, while collaborative assessment reduced the ability to hold individual students accountable for what they had learned, it appeared to be an accurate reflection of most students’ mathematical knowledge and ability. One dyad, however, remained committed to working independently; the partners rarely discussed their ideas with each other and both students created their own solutions. During their discussions, students who collaborated were more likely to discuss various calculations related to the problem, rather than discuss potential strategies or solutions. Students interacted comfortably and informally with each other and asked questions if they did not understand, but did not often critically challenge their partner’s suggestions or provide justification for their own ideas. As a result, students did not always make reasoned choices when approaching the problem or evaluate the appropriateness of their strategy or solution.

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