Group Work

Group Work

To create success for group work, setting up and explaining the expectations for the group work prior to assigning the task and groups.

Guidelines for groups

Have respect for each other – Respect each other’s ideas – Respect the other group members – Don’t interrupt each other   – Everyone’s opinion should count  – Be honest with each other

All group members should do an equal amount of work – Everyone should share the responsibility of the tasks  – Don’t take over and don’t let others take over

Your group should have a common understanding of goals that need to   be achieved – Help each other to understand all concepts

Be open to compromise.- Be willing to cooperate with others on their ideas   – Keep an open mind   – Vote on disagreements

Effective communication.   – Make sure everyone is able to be vocal about their ideas and problems   – Give ideas no matter how “off” you may think they are   – Listen effectively   – Don’t be critical

Time management.   – Attend and arrive on time to all group meetings   – Be flexible about meeting times   – Keep on task (limit talk about non-related events)

Be happy in the group you are in.

Grading Methods for Group Work

Instructor Assessment of Group Product

Assessment Option



Shared Group Grade

The group submits one product and all group members receive the same grade, regardless of individual contribution.

  • encourages group work – groups sink or swim together
  • decreases likelihood of plagiarism (more likely with individual products from group work)
  • relatively straightforward method
  • individual contributions are not necessarily reflected in the marks
  • stronger students may be unfairly disadvantaged by weaker ones and vice versa

Group Average Grade

Individual submissions (allocated tasks or individual reports) are scored individually. The group members each receive the averageof these individual scores.

  • may provide motivation for students to focus on both individual and group work and thereby develop in both areas
  • may be perceived as unfair by students
  • stronger students may be unfairly disadvantaged by weaker ones and vice versa

Individual Grade – Allocated task

Each student completes an allocated task that contributes to the final group product and gets the marks for that task

  • a relatively objective way of ensuring individual participation
  • may provide additional motivation to students
  • potential to reward outstanding performance
  • difficult to find tasks that are exactly equal in size/complexity
  • does not encourage the group process/collaboration
  • dependencies between tasks may slow progress of some

Individual Grade – Individual report

Each student writes and submits an individual report based on the group’s work on the task/project

  • ensures individual effort
  • perceived as fair by students
  • precise manner in which individual reports should differ often very unclear to students
  • likelihood of unintentional plagiarism increased

Individual Grade – Examination

Exam questions specifically target the group projects, and can only be answered by students who have been thoroughly involved in the project

  • may increase motivation to learn from the group project including learning from the other members of the group
  • may diminish importance of group work
  • additional work for staff in designing exam questions
  • may not be effective, students may be able to answer the questions by reading the group reports

From Winchester-Seeto, T. (April, 2002). Assessment of collaborative work – collaboration versus assessment. Invited paper presented at the Annual Uniserve Science Symposium, The University of Sydney

Key benefits of group work in the classroom and the workplace



I have always enjoyed group work. As an educator I have to recognize that not all learners enjoy group work. Therefore, group work alone should not be a primary educational method to teach. In addition with other methods, group work can be a fun, and collaborative method for the learners to integrate what they have learned with other learners. Group work can be difficult to control, monitor and grade. Guidelines and grading methods are strategies the educator would put in place prior to the assigning the group work.


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