SPARK stands for Self and Peer Assessment Resource Kit. At UTS you can use SPARKplus, a tool offering group, self and peer assessment with sophisticated reporting. This guide explains how to request a SPARK Group Contribution session for your subject.
** Read the Introductory guide to SPARK in Contribution Mode **
Setup SPARK for assessing group contribution
All new users need to request a SPARK user account through ServiceConnect. Existing user requests for setup/changes to SPARK sessions should also be made through ServiceConnect.
If your subject has used SPARK previously we can clone and update the previous version to save time. Otherwise if you are new to SPARK in Group Contribution mode, please provide the following information :
- Subject name and number (is this a repeat of a previous SPARK setup/subject?)
- Subject coordinator’s LastName, Firstname and staff ID (The subject coordinator is the person responsible for this subject)
- Name for the group task (this would usually be the same as published in the subject outline).
- If already available, supply an accurate listing of students and groups (see note A below).
- What marking Categories and Criteria do you want to use? (see note B below)
- Start and Finish dates (and times if you like) that you want to run SPARK within.
(A) Student group setup
Enrolments in your subject may change quite a bit in the first few weeks of semester, so delay group formation if possible until enrolment is stable – usually by week 3-4. SPARK works best for groups of 3-6 students with 4-5 most common. Anonymity isn’t possible in groups of two. Group membership can be changed easily in SPARK up until the point at which ratings start, but thereafter only additions can be made (no deletions!).
Supply your list of groups in a four column excel spreadsheet using this format for column headers: LastName, FirstName, AccountID, GroupName. Download a template here
‘AccountID‘ is same as student number. ‘GroupName’ can be anything with letters & numbers only. For small student cohorts the details can be added manually, but please still provide a list of names, ID numbers and groups.
(B) Marking categories and criteria
Criteria are grouped within categories, usually focused on a process or product. You can develop your own categories and criteria or draw from SPARK’s existing list during the setup procedure. What is important is that you describe the essence of a task and what is important in terms of measurable criteria. Avoid ambiguity and be explicit.
Students will use these criteria to rate their peers. Most teachers find that 4-5 criteria are enough. A student in a group of 5 rating peers on 5 criteria must make 25 decisions – so avoid large groups and large numbers of criteria if you want the students to complete the ratings and write effective comments.
Some examples of categories and criteria are listed below. You are encouraged to develop your own in relation to the tasks in your subject.
Efficient functioning of the group
- Displayed an openness in engaging with other group member’s ideas and suggestions
- Attended most/all group meetings on time
- Level of enthusiasm & participation
Preparation of final report
- Made a positive contribution to the development of the final report
- Did what was asked or allocated, effectively and reliably
Contribution to final submission
- Contributed actively to the development of ideas
- Participated in research and analysis activities
- Helped out in the writing and editing
- Contributed to data and formula entry and formatting
How to minimise delays in the setup process
Plenty of advance notice is required for new or complex configurations, at least 48 business hours. Instructors already self-sufficient with configuring SPARK can expect assistance within a several hours for basic subject cloning and account creation.
Inaccurate or mistyped details are a common cause of problems with account setup.
- Always use a recently downloaded student listing.
- Use spreadsheet lists from MSA+ to avoid re-keying of student numbers.
- Another reliable source of student names and numbers is in your UTSonline subject enrolment listing.
Please check the information you provide for accuracy. Any of the following, if present, will prevent successful creation of accounts or groups and delay the setup process.
- Missing students
- Student IDs with leading zeroes stripped out (if you don’t know how to fix this, just flag it so that it can be cleaned up by the person loading the files)
- Student names present, but no student ID
- First name and Second name not in separate columns
- Group sizes smaller or larger than specified range
- Group names with non-alphameric characters – use letters and digits only
- Same student/s in more than 1 group