Assessing group tasks

Assessing groupworkAssessments drives student learning. Assessment needs to show the value of team skills and be aligned with stated learning outcomes.

  • Consider if you are going to assess the task outcomes, the process that led to it, or both?
  • Support group task outcome assessment by making an explicit marking scheme available to students prior to completing their task.
  • Make required output short to ensure group assignments are more challenging i.e. less than 3 pages.
  • Assessment can be focused on a single decision for which supporting reasons are given.
  • Consider involving students in developing criteria by which group process is assessed.
  • Good process skills should be observable e.g. good listening skills, helpful suggestions, or punctuality.
  • Self-and-peer assessment is best used in at least two cycles to allow for learning the process and an opportunity to improve upon feedback.
  • A group mark can be the same for everyone or weighted individually according to self and peer assessment.
  • Support a group task by assigning an individual assignment (e.g. learning journal or portfolio).

Why

Students are often anxious about groupwork. Because in the past they have had to make a choice between getting a poor mark or carrying an extra load to make-up for the free-riders.

Assessing a group process gives students an incentive to take collaboration seriously. It also gives them a sense of security against free-riding. Further, when students generate the assessment criteria for the group process, they are likely to be committed to them.

When students are asked to hand in a short group paper, they will have to collaborate in producing it. A longer submitted paper allows groups to divide the task up to be completed individually. This would be a lost opportunity to learn and work together.

Examples

  • Create a list of possible team skill assessment criteria for self and peer assessment purposes and allow students to choose from it. It may be possible to allow each team to use slightly different criteria.
  • It may be useful to settle the criteria a few weeks into the semester when students have got a feel for group work and what they value in the context of the current unit of study.
  • Self and peer assessment process can be made easier by adopting the SPARK (Self-and-Peer Assessment Resource Kit) system, where criteria can be customised and scores are automatically created.

Further resources