This thesis investigates the effect that non-anonymity has upon student team-member evaluations; more specifically, it looked at how to create conditions of openness and honesty in which students will readily give and receive constructive criticism. The central hypothesis of this research is that if students are taught and prepared to properly give and receive constructive criticism, and have multiple opportunities to do so, non-anonymous feedback is the most effective and desirable. In order to gauge the effects of non-anonymity, eight specific hypotheses relating to different aspects of the feedback process were tested. Predictions were made as to the effects upon the self-awareness and defensiveness of those who received feedback, the honesty and candor of those who provided it, as well as the effect upon teams' levels of trust and unity, and levels of performance. The statistical analysis showed that non-anonymity had no significant effect upon self-awareness, trust and unity, and performance. Significant differences were observed for honesty and candor, as well as defensiveness. Although some of these differences were in favor, others were contrary to the assumptions that were made. One of the results showed that at the beginning of the procedure, non-anonymous ratings were more lenient, but at the end of the process there was no difference. This was as expected. In regards to the overall process, non-anonymous students perceived ratings to be less honest and candid. A second conclusion was that non-anonymous students were actually more defensive towards negative feedback. In the end, there was no strong evidence for or against non-anonymity, and thus it appears that there was no major treatment effect. There are two justifications as to why this may be the case. These are based upon insights gained from the free-response section of a follow-up survey which the participants took. First, if non-anonymous feedback does indeed produce positive outcomes it may take a longer period of time for these differences to be noticed. This process took place over only about a three-month period, and feedback was received only 3-4 weeks apart. Secondly, when teams are small (i.e., only 3-5 members), it is difficult to maintain anonymity, which essentially removes the treatment. From these observations, the final recommendation of this report is that for students working in small teams, non-anonymous feedback is preferable. This is because, as just noted, anonymity is difficult to maintain even if it is a required condition. It seems that pretending that anonymity exists, when in fact it does not, actually hinders transparency and trust. Also, it seems that giving feedback non-anonymously will more effectively prepare students for working on teams in their careers, as this is more reflective of the way that feedback will be provided in the workforce.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Civil and Environmental Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





Self-awareness, feedback, self-other agreement, overrater, underrater, in-agreement, accountability, non-anonymous, anonymous