Collaborative testing is recognised as an effective assessment approach linked to positive student outcomes including enhanced test performance and reduced assessment anxiety. While collaborative testing approaches appear beneficial to university students in general, it is unclear whether students from different year levels benefit to the same extent. Therefore, the overarching aim of this study was to compare the perceptions and performances of first and third- year undergraduate students taking part in collaborative testing on multiple occasions during a semester. It was predicted that first-year students would perceive the collaborative testing opportunities as more beneficial than third-years given their limited formative experiences with university assessment. Further, it was expected that students would generally perform at a higher level on collaborative versus individual tests in line with previous work. Student performance and perceptions of collaborative testing were collected on two occasions within a semester over a period of two years in both a first-year and third-year course. Quantitative and qualitative results revealed that first-year students were more receptive and perceived more benefits relating to collaborative testing than third-years despite the fact both cohorts generally performed at a higher standard on the collaborative versus individual components. These findings suggest that while collaborative testing is considered beneficial to most, if not all, students, the benefits appear to be greater for first-year student cohorts.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Collaborative testing should be strategically implemented targeting students transitioning into university, or in their earlier years of study.
  2. Incorporating collaborative testing approaches when designing first-year assessment may foster intrinsic motivation and enhance early university experiences.
  3. Results suggest that collaborative testing can benefit academic performance in third-year students, but should be considered carefully as these students also reported higher pressure and tension.
  4. Overall, collaborative testing approaches appear beneficial to all students, but are best suited to early year students to foster the development of university assessment skills.

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