Direct instruction and self- and peer assessment to help vocational technical students learn about successful collaboration


Judith ter Vrugte


There is a growing need in our society for highly qualified vocational technicians who not only possess traditional professional skills, but are also expected to function well in multi-disciplinary teams and work on multi-faceted problems. These requirements emphasize the importance of collaboration skills. Merely placing people together does not guarantee successful, effective, and efficient collaboration. Training or education can optimize the collaboration skills. To meet with this need educators (e.g., teachers in vocational education) are now exploring ways to successfully teach collaboration skills and integrate these into their curriculum.

Within the NWO project “21st century skills for vocational technical students; a high-tech approach”, digital tools are being developed that support secondary vocational technical students in the acquisition of collaboration skills by means of two different methods. The first is direct instruction and the second is self- and peer assessment (see Phielix, Prins, Kirschner, Erkens, & Jaspers, 2011). The assessment procedure is based on the feedback model of Hattie and Timperley (2007), in which they distinguish between feed up (where am I going?), feed back (how am I going?) and feed forward (where to next?). The content of both the instruction and the self- and peer assessment tool is based on the RIDE rules (i.e., respect, intelligent collaboration, deciding together, and encouraging), in which essential characteristics of successful collaboration are captured.


You will conduct an experimental study to investigate the effects of direct instruction and self- and peer assessment, for which a digital environment has been developed. This will be implemented in existing lessons, where secondary vocational technical students work together (face-to-face) on a project.


Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112. doi: 10.3102/003465430298487

Phielix, C., Prins, F. J., Kirschner, P. A., Erkens, G., & Jaspers, J. (2011). Group awareness of social and cognitive performance in a CSCL environment: Effects of a peer feedback and reflection tool. Computers in Human Behavior, 27(3), 1087-1102. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2010.06.024

Saab, N., van Joolingen, W. R., & van Hout-Wolters, B. H. A. M. (2007). Supporting communication in a collaborative discovery learning environment: The effect of instruction. Instructional Science, 35(1), 73-98. doi: 10.1007/s11251-006-9003-4