Group work, nearly all of us have had at least one awful experience when it comes to group work. A few of us may have been lucky enough to have a positive experience. I have had my share of good and bad group work assignments but overall I think they can be a valuable learning opportunity.
During the discussions on group work I suggested the group assessment be based on peer evaluations formulated from a clear and precise rubric which is given at the onset of the project, to all participants. Upon completion of the task, one mark is given by the student for each member of their group; these marks will be added as a percentage of the final grade. I have discovered a more effective and feed forward system. I follow Maryellen Weimer, PhD blog and saw a recent article about peer assessment in groups. Two faculty members developed a formative assessment system that the group uses during their work assignment. The results were positive to the group and individual. Peer assessment that is performed during the assignment provides anonymous feedback to individuals on their contributions.
“Group members give each other feedback that is task focused—it’s about how the group member is performing tasks, not feedback about personal characteristics. The group member questions include these, among others: attends team meetings, communicates and responds promptly to team members, meets deadlines and completes assigned work, and listens and respectfully considers teammates’ ideas and opinions.”
After the group’s overall results are delivered and time given to reflect, the groups then come together to discuss the feedback and make a plan to move forward.
“It’s an interesting system that provides individuals and groups with good formative feedback. Even more noteworthy, the activity has been designed so that groups must confront the feedback and make some decisions about how they will respond. Students are being taught that problems within a group can be constructively resolved in ways that benefit the group and the work it’s completing.”
I believe this to be an excellent method to monitor groups and promote active participation and I will be using this idea to formulate a mid-assignment formative peer assessment form.
At some point I will come across a group which will have an issue that needs resolving, this article provides helpful suggestions and actions to take when challenges arise with groups. Another effective management tool I will use in the future is a group contract; the accountability factor is strong and provides clear rules of participation.
One final link I will add to this post focuses group work and has many helpful tips on how to implement successful group work activities.