Methods for assessing group work

Introduction

Students should be made aware of assessment before starting the project

  • assessment method
  • criteria (product and/or process)

Group of students working through a math problem on a dry erase boardProduct versus process

  • assessing the product - measuring the quantity and quality of individual work in a group project
  • assessing the process - evaluating individual teamwork skills and interaction

Assessment by instructor versus by group members

  • by instructor - instructor assigns all marks
  • by group members - group members evaluate their contributions to the group and assign marks

Product assessment by instructor

Equally shared mark

  • All group members receive same grade
Advantages Disadvantages
  • Easiest to implement - does not require any additional work aside from marking the projects
  • Appropriate if group work mark is a minor part of total mark for the course
  • Group responsibilities are enforced - group succeeds or fails together
  • Individual contributions are not reflected in the distribution of marks
  • Poor students may benefit from the work of hard-working students
  • Good students may be dragged down by poor students
  • Does not motivate students

Exam questions

  • Questions should be specifically about the project, and are answerable only by students who have been thoroughly involved in the project
Advantages Disadvantages
  • May increase interest in the project - students may be more motivated to learn about the work of their fellow group members
  • Students may ignore group in order to study
    for the exam on their own
  • May mean additional work for instructor when preparing the exam questions
  • May not be effective - students may be able to answer the questions by simply proofreading
    the project

Splitting tasks

  • Project must be divisible into multiple tasks of the same complexity
  • Each student is responsible for one task
  • Final mark is part group mark (e.g., 50%) and part individual task mark (e.g., 50%)
Advantages Disadvantages
  • objective way of determining individual participation
  • individual component grade may provide additional motivation
  • May increase interest in the project - students may be more motivated to learn about the work of their fellow group members
  • Students may ignore group in order to study for the exam on their own
  • May mean additional work for instructor when preparing the exam questions
  • May not be effective - students may be able to answer the questions by simply proofreading the project

Direct evaluation

  • Instructor judges individual merits
  • Oral interviews
  • Periodic reports
  • Meeting minutes
  • Observation
Advantages Disadvantages
  • oral interviews are a good way of getting information on individual participation
  • enables instructor to give each student more specific feedback
  • very time consuming
  • information obtained is often subjective and/or may be inaccurate
  • class size may make it infeasible

Product assessment by peer evaluation

Issues with peer evaluation:

  • Should we use self-assessment?
  • Should instructor adjust marks?
  • Should it be done individually or collectively by consensus?

Distribution of a pool of marks (see Appendix for example)

  • Award the group a mark equal to (group mark) X (no. of group members)
  • Let group divide marks among themselves
Advantages Disadvantages
  • easy to implement
  • peer assessment may motivate students to
    contribute more to the group
  • open to subjective evaluations by students (e.g., giving friends high marks as opposed to those who contributed the most)
  • opens the doors to personal conflicts between group members
  • may foster competition
  • may be difficult for students to evaluate each other without objective criteria

Individual weighting factor (see Appendix for example)

  • Points awarded for a list of tasks
  • Individual mark = (group mark) X (peer assessment factor)
Advantages Disadvantages
  • provides students with objective criteria by which to judge individual contributions
  • time consuming for instructor
  • rating scale may be misinterpreted
  • tasks all have the same weight

Process assessment

List of skills to assess, such as:

  • adoption of complementary team roles
  • cooperative behaviour
  • time and task management
  • creative problem solving
  • use of a range of working methods
  • negotiation

Process assessment by instructor

Direct evaluation of team behaviour using teamwork logs - sample questions:

  • what steps have you taken to organize your teamwork?
  • what steps have you taken to monitor the effectiveness of your team?
  • what steps have you taken to improve the effectiveness of your team?
  • what problems have you encountered in working as a team and how did you tackle them?
  • if you were to embark on a second, similar task as a team, what would be different about the way you go about working, and why?
Advantages Disadvantages
  • makes students reflect on their operation as a team
  • logs provide plenty of information that can be used as a basis for assessment
  • reviewing logs can be very time-consuming
  • students may need training in order to be aware of what goes on in the teams

Process assessment by peer evaluation

  • Individual assessment (see Appendix for example)
  • how members view each member of the team
  • use lists of key group work traits
  • average of individual marks must be the same as the group mark
Advantages Disadvantages
  • gives a personalized view of each member's contributions
  • list of traits provides students with objective criteria
  • time consuming and complex; instructor must check results
  • list of traits may not give a true measure of the group work process
  • students may misinterpret traits

References

  • Gibbs, G. Learning in Teams: a Tutor Guide. Oxford, 1995.
  • Lejk, M. et al. A Survey of Methods of Deriving Individual Grades from Group Assessments. In Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. Vol. 21, No. 3, 1996.

Appendix with numerical examples

Example for distribution of a pool of marks

  • Group project mark: 70
  • No. of group members: 4
  • Instructor awards 280 points to group
  • Advises students that difference between marks must not be greater than 20
  • Group members divide marks by consensus as follows:
Student Mark
A 80
B 60
C 75
D 65
Total = 280

Example for individual weighting factor

List of tasks Ann Bob Chris
a) Literature search 3 4 1
(b) Analysing the literature 4 5 1
(c) Writing a report 1 2 4
(d) Group presentation 3 1 1
Individual Totals 11 12 7

Rating scale

1 -Did not contribute in this way
2 -Willing but not very successful
3 -Average
4 -Above Average
5 -Outstanding

Peer assessment factor = (individual total) / (average total)
Average of individual totals = 10
If project mark = 60

Individual marks:

Ann = 60 * (11/10) = 66
Bob = 60 * (12/10) = 72
Chris = 60 * (7/10) = 42


Example for individual assessment

3 group members (Ann, Bob, Chris), no self-assessment

Student name: Ann
Evaluated by: Bob (marks selected are in boldface in this example)

Aspect of team functioning well below average below average average above average well above average
1. Forming good team cohesion -2 -1 0 1 2
2. Leadership, managing meetings -2 -1 0 1 2
3. Planning and allocating tasks -2 -1 0 1 2
4. Generating ideas and solutions -2 -1 0 1 2
5. Tackling team social problems -2 -1 0 1 2
6. Organising individuals to do jobs -2 -1 0 1 2
7. Helping team members to finish jobs -2 -1 0 1 2
8. Willingly taking on unpopular jobs -2 -1 0 1 2
Instructor’s mark for team project Sum of evaluation marks Individual mark for Ann given by Bob
60% +3 63%

Note: Bob’s evaluation of Chris must add up to -3

Student name: Ann
Evaluated by: Chris

Aspect of team functioning well below average below average average above average well above average
1. Forming good team cohesion -2 -1 0 1 2
2. Leadership, managing meetings -2 -1 0 1 2
3. Planning and allocating tasks -2 -1 0 1 2
4. Generating ideas and solutions -2 -1 0 1 2
5. Tackling team social problems -2 -1 0 1 2
6. Organising individuals to do jobs -2 -1 0 1 2
7. Helping team members to finish jobs -2 -1 0 1 2
8. Willingly taking on unpopular jobs -2 -1 0 1 2
Instructor’s mark for team project Sum of evaluation marks Individual mark for Ann given by Chris
60% +1 61%

Note: Chris’ evaluation of bob must add up to -1

Ann’s final mark: (63 + 61) / 2 = 62%

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