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Table 5 Themes from qualitative analysis

From: Peer assessment to improve medical student’s contributions to team-based projects: randomised controlled trial and qualitative follow-up

Anxiety and poor implementation of the intervention “The group reaction ‘en masse’ was not positive and that it would be better to have the possibility of not being in the peer assessment group … I think I was definitely influenced by the group reaction being concerned about I” (Intervention 3)
“Largely it’s political correctness, I’d just probably, I wouldn’t grade that unless it was serious, serious – it would have to be serious …” (Intervention 3)
“A couple of my friends had people like that in their group and did nothing. And they were even more stressed because they knew that there was a peer evaluation but the team members wouldn’t vote someone low marks, you know what I mean? So it was time-consuming and more stressful than just not having to mark them. There is tension anyway between you and that person, and how do you tell them that you’re going to give them that grade, it puts even more tension because you have to see them after …’ (Intervention 1)
“Maybe if you’re in the position of putting the work together and editing it and you weren’t happy with someone’s work, if there’s no peer evaluation you might be more inclined to tell them that you weren’t happy with how they’re working, just because it works both ways, like as you want them to give you a good mark, so maybe if you’re not happy with how they’re working and you’re not doing peer evaluation, you might not be afraid to kind of tell them like to get their act together or whatever”. (Intervention 2)
Conflicting views whether peer evaluation could improve team effectiveness Freeloaders regardless of peer evaluation would definitely just coast, regardless. And we’ve seen other groups and we hear about this too, about how peer evaluation or not, there will always be that one girl/guy … who doesn’t want to, who will either say it up front or just be sly about it and then like have someone else do their work for them last minute which is worse in my opinion. But you always have those people, regardless”. (Intervention 1)
“Some people actually worked harder but there were some people that just took advantage of the fact we were not marking each other and some people had to pick up the slack then”. (Control 1)
“Some people got the feeling it would not make that much of a difference because the whole project is about 17%. One or two marks above or below would not make that much of a difference” (Intervention 3)
“If I wanted to work hard, I would have worked hard regardless of the peer assessment... Not because of peer assessment but just because you do not want to seem dumb in front of your friends”. (Intervention 1)
“We had people who did their tasks and had no other parts to do during the last days and did not even interact in giving ideas and stuff “(Control 2)
Critical of balanced marking system “If you think somebody deserves more well then that’s somebody else who deserves less, but not necessarily, we could have all been working at the exact same level but just one person outshines everybody else … it’s like okay well who are we going to take that one point off?” (Control 1)
“Say everyone does their part correctly and well, but there is one or two people that do exceptionally well … why should one guy who did as well as the other four, be forced to give up his marks to the other two people that did exceptionally well?” (Control 3)
Recommendations for the future “If you took an equal from all four [team members] and gave it to the two in a split, then all of them, all the four that did contribute but not as much as the other two, they would still get the same level but the other two would get the points they deserve …” (Control 3)
“I think it would be a good idea instead of taking marks away from others, what you can do is you can maybe have a vote … I know it’s out of six, have maybe two or three marks up for grabs and essentially members of the group can, I guess sort of vote for, and it’s unbiased, just vote for who you think should get those extra marks, and I think it would make everyone happy because the people that … didn’t go above and beyond, they’re going to keep their marks and they’re not forced to give their marks to other people, and the people that did go above and beyond, they have a shot at getting those extra marks, so I guess it would benefit both people”. (Control 3)