Peer Evaluation: Fink’s method

Updated: Jul 17, 2018



L. Dee Fink has been part of the Instructional Development Program at the University of Oklahoma since 1979 where he has trained faculty of all levels through workshops and seminars. He has consulted with over 200 colleges and universities around the world and in 2004, he published “Team-Based Learning: A Transformative Use Of Small Groups In College Teaching” together with Larry Michaelsen.


In this seminal publication, he provides his perspective on how to best conduct Team-Based Learning including peer evaluation. In this blog post, we’ll consider his viewpoint on how to perform a good peer evaluation successfully.


How exactly does Fink’s method work?


Fink’s way of conducting peer evaluation is the most similar one to Michaelsen’s in comparison to other methods. In both methods, students are asked to allocate a given number of points among their peers. However these approaches differ in the way that they calculate the scores.


First, each student is given 100 points which they have to allocate among their team members.


Next, the scores each student receives from their peers are summed up to calculate their “peer score”. This peer score is multiplied by the mean of their TRAT or another teamgroup work score to adjust it based on the feedback received in the peer evaluation exercise.


For instance, if a student ends up having a peer score of 95 and their TRAT score is 80, you would multiply the latter by 0.95 arriving at a score of 76. Conversely, if a student achieves a peer score of 105 and their TRAT score is 80, you would multiply the latter by 1.05 arriving at a score of 104. Similar to Michaelsen’s approach, qualitative feedback is also encouraged by Fink to explain the rationale behind the scores each student gave its peers.


This way of conducting peer evaluation is sometimes perceived as fairer than Michaelsen’s Method because students are allowed to give their team members an equal score if they think they all contributed equally.


Potential issues with Fink’s approach to Peer Evaluation


A caveat of this technique is that, due to how scores are calculated, student scoring can have a significant impact on their peers’ grades. It is often easy for students to underestimate the impact of their evaluations on their peers’ grades, which could result in their evaluations hurting their team members’ scores.


For instance, in a group of 6 people, if all team members give a single student 18 points instead of 20 points, that would add up to 90 instead of 100. Therefore, if the student had a TRAT score of 70, it would be reduced to 63.


How do you conduct peer evaluation in your class? Do you use Fink’s or Michaelsen’s approach? Perhaps you use a combination of both or something you invented yourself. We’d love to know!


If you’re interested in getting more information about the available methods for peer evaluation refer to this resource: Peer Evaluation In Team-Based Learning: The Definitive Guide


Have you already decided which peer evaluation method to use? See our post on the 5 Best Practices For A Successful Peer Evaluation.


References


1. Levine, R.E., 2012. Peer evaluation in team-based learning. Team-Based Learning for Health Professions Education: A Guide to Using Small Groups to Improve Learning, pp.103-116.


2. Fink Consulting.[Online].Available at: http://finkconsulting.info/. [Accessed 04/06/2018]