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Group-based Assessments in Project Management Higher Education
datasetposted on 2024-01-19, 03:38 authored by Roksana TumpaRoksana Tumpa
The number of project-based organisations has been significantly growing in recent years as projects provide substantial economic and social benefits. Increased projectised organisations require a large number of skilled project professionals to meet the growing demand and close the talent gap. However, the talent deficit in project management is mounting and has become a topical discussion raised by the Project Management Institution (PMI). A lack of skilled project management professionals can result in the failure of projects which can have adverse impacts on the gross domestic product (GDP) across the globe. It is vital that organisations have competent project professionals to execute projects. Therefore, employers aim to recruit project management professionals with the right set of skills. Project professionals require to have a balanced mixture of technical and soft skills. Time management, quality management, cost management and scope management are some of the technical skills. On the other hand, soft skills entail problem-solving skills, communication, leadership, team working, decision-making, and creativity. Higher education institutions have an influential role to play in preparing project management professionals for the industry. Higher education institutions adopt many strategies for developing competent project management graduates, one of which is the use of group-based assessments to polish students’ technical and soft skills. Although group-based assessments have been extensively discussed in the existing literature considering both the perspectives of academics and students in different disciplines, evidence-based good practices of approaching group-based assessments to serve this purpose are still lacking. Therefore, this research aims to develop an authentic framework with good practices for approaching group-based assessments to polish employability skills (both technical and soft) from the lens of project management academics. This research is grounded on the socio-constructivist theory of collaborative learning developed by Lev Vygotsky (1978). To achieve the aim of the research, the study was conducted in four stages: a scoping literature review, systematic literature review (SLR), semi-structured interview and focus groups. Firstly, a scoping review was undertaken to explore the approaches to improve employability, one of which is group-based assessments. In the second stage, the SLR was utilised to examine the existing literature relating to group-based assessment within the last decade in the context of higher education to identify research gaps. The findings suggest some conclusive and inconclusive constructs of group-based assessments. The third stage further explores the inconclusive aspects and contextualises the SLR findings in the context of the project management discipline. This stage involves conducting twenty-two semi-structured interviews with purposively selected project management academics. The third stage concludes with a set of ten recommendations around group tasks, group formation, group size, free-riding issues and academic guidance. In the final stage, the proposed recommendations are validated by conducting two focus groups consisting of fifteen project management academics in total. The focus groups were adopted to increase the credibility of the semi-structured interview findings, based on the SLR review by way of triangulation, using the two sources of data, to compare the findings from the interviews with the results from the focus groups. The final findings of the research offer a robust framework with a comprehensive set of good practices for designing and administering group-based assessments with an aim to develop the employability skills of project management graduates. The identified good practices are conceptually mapped to the competencies outlined in the Individual Competence Baseline (ICB.4) and discussed in the light of the social constructivist theory. It is anticipated that the findings of the research can contribute to developing the employability skills of project management graduates. Project management academics can use the framework as a tool to help students develop both technical and soft skills. If group-based assessments are designed authentically maintaining its best practices, students participating in group-based assessments are expected to enhance their employability skills and be better ready for the complex project environment.