29 June, 2016
To make sure that instructors are integrating group work effectively, it is important to be aware how to manage and evaluate group work
In managing group work, there are 3 steps involved:
- Introduce the task. This can be as simple as instructing students to turn to their neighbor to discuss or debate a topic.
- Give students with sufficient time to get involved with the task. Walk around and address any questions as needed.
- Debrief. Call on a few students to share a summary of their conclusions. Address any misconceptions or clarify any confusing points. Open the floor for questions.
This process can be as short at 5 minutes, but can be longer depending on the task at hand.
Managing larger group work projects
Here are some strategies to help ensure productive group dynamics:
- Give opportunities for students to develop rapport and group cohesion throughicebreakers, team-building, and reflection exercises.
- Give students time to create a group work plan letting them to plan for deadlines, and divvy up responsibilities.
- Have studentsestablish ground rules. Students can make a contract for each member to sign; this contract can include agreed-upon penalties for those who fail to fulfill obligations.
- Assign roles to members of each group and change the roles periodically. For example, one student can be the coordinator, another the note-taker, another the summarizer, and another the planner of next steps.
- Let students to rate each other’s quality and quantity of contributions. Use these evaluations when giving individual grades, but do not let it depend heavily on a students’ final grade. Communicate clearly how peer assessment will affect grades.
- Check in with groups intermittently, but motivate students to handle their own issues before coming to you for assistance.
Evaluating Group Work
Student group work can lead to the production of:
- reports of case studies
- in-class or video presentations
The following are some ways to provide feedback on group productivity throughout the process as well as on the group product.
- Assess students on both their contributions to group processes as well as the final product.
- Make a detailed explanation of what your expectations are.
- Give scores for individuals as well as groups.
- Use rubrics. Consider asking students for feedback and including some of their ideas to the rubric.
- Integratepeer and self-assessment at various milestones. This is a good way to check in on the assignment progress as well as the group dynamics.
- Communicate clearly to students at the beginning how you will calculate their grades.
Some general strategies to remember when integrating group work:
- Introduce group work early in the semester to set clear student expectations.
- Plan for each stage of group work.
- Carefully explain to your students how groups will operate and how students will be graded.
- Help students develop the skills they need to succeed in doing group activities, such as using team-building exercises or introducing self-reflection techniques.
- Establish ground rulesfor participation and contributions.
- Consider using written contracts.
- Integrateself and peer assessments for group members to assess their own and others’ contributions.