Group Assessment

Group work is where students work together on a project or task and produce a collaborative response. It is widely recognised as a valued process for students and the ability to work cooperatively is well regarded by employers. 

Educational benefits

  • develops students understanding in a social context – working in groups provides a supportive environment  where students may be encouraged to develop new perspectives and develop shared responses
  • a peer learning approach can enhance understanding by testing ideas within the group and explaining views to others, collectively assessing alternatives
  • authentic approach – learning to work and collaborate in teams is a skill that employers value and that is applicable in most professional career paths
  • development of generic skills that arise from working in a team including planning, time management, organisation and communication as well as leadership skills, analytical and critical evaluation skills, flexibility, problem solving, negotiation and compromise

Challenges

  • students may perceive contribution in group work as being inequitable – a negative past experience may result in students objecting to group work
  • students may find working in groups challenging and confronting and may need encouragement to participate effectively in the activity
  • it can be time consuming to plan, develop and implement effective group tasks – the task itself may also need additional time allowed for students to move through team building stages, while still having enough time to complete the task
  • online group work can involve factoring in time differences and may require at least some asynchronous activity
  • conflicts may arise within groups which require intervention from teaching staff and alternatives may have to be developed for groups which break down

Author: Chones, Source: Shutterstock (UNE)

Tips

  • design appropriate tasks, build assessment strategies that show students the rewards from working together – complex tasks and shared goals that are easier to address by working in groups
  • ensure objectives for the group task are clear – and provide guidance on working in groups
  • establish clear equitable procedures (selection of groups, roles and responsibilities, conduct and feedback stages)
  • include information on how group conflict will be managed and how the project will be assessed
  • think carefully about group size in relation to the task – too large a group may take time to reach the performing stage, while a small group may feel overwhelmed if a group member leaves
  • work with students to learn about each other to build trust and assist them in working together collaboratively – nurture through group building process – and allow extra time for this process
  • use tools which enable student contributions to be tracked ie wiki, google docs
  • assign marks for the group but also to individuals for their effort (e.g. through peer and self-review or reflective writing)
  • develop a marking scheme which makes it possible for students to be marked separately, unless the ability to work in a team is an identified learning outcome for the task
Last modified: Monday, 29 August 2016, 4:52 PM