How can I assess group work?
All of the principles of assessment that apply to individual work apply to group work as well. Assessing group work has added challenges, however.
First, depending on the objectives of the assignment, the instructor might want to assess the team’s final product (e.g., design, report, presentation), their group processes (e.g., ability to meet deadlines, contribute fairly, communicate effectively), or both. Second, group performance must be translated into individual grades – which raises issues of fairness and equity. Complicating both these issues is the fact that neither group processes nor individual contribution are necessarily apparent in the final product.
Thus, in addition to evaluating the group’s output, instructors may need to find ways to determine how groups functioned and the extent to which individuals contributed to the effort. This isn’t always easy, but these general principles can guide you, and the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence can help you find and implement the right approach for your goals and context.
Assess individual, as well as group, learning and performance.
Diligent students can be profoundly demotivated by group projects if they feel that their own success is dependent on team members who don’t do their share. One way to counteract the motivational hazards of group projects is to assess individual students’ learning and performance in addition to the group’s output. This strategy gives diligent students a greater sense of fairness and control and discourages free ridership.
Individual learning and performance can be assessed in any number of ways. Some instructors add an individual component to group projects (e.g., a short essay, journal entries); some combine a group project with an individual test or quiz. Both group and individual performance are then reflected in the total project grade (e.g., some faculty members make the group grade worth 50% and the individual grade worth 50%; others split it 80%/20%. There’s no perfect breakdown, but the grading scheme should (a) reflect your goals for student learning and (b) seek to motivate the kind of work you want to see.)
Professor Solomon asks student groups to research a famous anthropological controversy, and give an oral presentation analyzing the issues, positions, and people involved. She assigns a group grade for the presentation, but also requires all the team members to write a short, individual paper summarizing what they learned from the assignment and what they contributed to the team. If the individual piece demonstrates a poor understanding of the material or a low level of participation in the group, she reserves the right to lower the individual’s grade by a full letter grade. If it is particularly informed, thorough, or demonstrates an exceptionally high contribution to the team, she raises the individual’s grade by a full letter grade.
Assess process as well as product.
If developing teamwork skills is one of your learning objectives for the course, it’s important to assess students’ progress toward that goal. In other words, you should assess process (how students work) as well as product (the work they produce).
Process can be assessed according to a number of dimensions, such as the ability to generate a range of ideas, listen respectfully to disparate perspectives, distribute work fairly, resolve differences, and communicate effectively. Since instructors don’t always have a direct window into the dynamics of student groups, they often rely on teams to self-report via:
- team evaluations: each member of the team evaluates the dynamics of the team as a whole.
- peer evaluations: each team member evaluates the contributions of his/her teammates.
- self-evaluations: each team member documents and evaluates his own contributions to the team.
- Find samples of evaluations here...
These assessments can be quantitative or qualitative. They can be done as reflective writing assignments or as questionnaires targeting specific dimensions of teamwork. Think about which tools suit your purpose and context. Also give some thought to when you’ll use them (in the middle of the semester? at the end? both?), who should see them (just you? other team members?), and whether or not they should be anonymous. The Eberly Center can help you find, adapt, or create the right tool and determine how to use it to best effect.
Remember, too, that process assessments are subjective and students are not always straightforward when evaluating one another or themselves. However, in combination with product assessments and individual assessments, they can offer valuable glimpses into how teams function and alert you to major problems (e.g., particularly problematic team members or serious conflict), which can help to inform your feedback and grading.
Professor Montoya assigns a multi-stage information systems project where students work together in teams over much of the semester. Over the course of the semester, he periodically asks students to evaluate both the dynamics of the team as a whole and their own contributions, and to reflect on ways to improve both as the project continues. At the end of the project, he asks students to complete a peer evaluation for every member of their team, indicating each member’s contribution to the group. Professor Montoya’s total grade for the project combines a group grade (75%) and an individual grade (25%). The individual grade is based, in equal parts, on how each student’s teammates evaluated his contribution to the group and on the quality of the feedback he provided to them.
Make your assessment criteria and grading scheme clear.
It’s always important to articulate your performance criteria so students understand your expectations and standards. This is especially true if you are emphasizing skills that are not usually assessed, such as the ability to resolve conflict, delegate tasks, etc. Criteria for evaluating both product and process can be communicated by giving students a group work rubric (pdf) before they begin their work and then using it to provide meaningful feedback during and at the end of the project.
It’s also important to think about how you will weigh the various components of group projects in your grading scheme. Some questions to consider include:
- What percentage of the student’s total project grade will be based on the group’s performance vs. individual components?
- What percentage will be based on assessments of product vs. assessments of process?
- How much weight will you give to peer evaluations or self-evaluations?
- Will feedback from external clients also be incorporated into your assessment of the group’s work? If so, what sorts of feedback will you solicit: feedback on product (e.g., Does it work? Is it a good solution/design?), feedback on process (e.g., Did the group communicate effectively with the client? Did it meet deadlines?), or both?
A number of dimensions of group work can factor, either formally or informally, into a student’s grade. What’s important is to think about what dimensions of student performance matter to you and how your grading criteria and the weighting of assessment components can help motivate the behaviors you want to see. Finally, it’s critical to clearly communicate your grading scheme to students.
Find samples of group project assessment tools here...
Types of Assessment Methods
What is Case Study?
Case study is a learning practice that shifts the emphasis from lecture-based activities towards more student-based activities. In general, teaching materials for case study can come from various sources. Teaching materials can be a short journal or news article; they can be a scenario of problem solving and decision making; they can be an open-ended question, a picture or even a diagram. The aim of case study is to help students demonstrate the theoretical concepts in real-life issues. Students can also develop various generic skills, such as decision making and practical skills through the case study. Case study can be practiced either individually or as a group. Students are actively involved in the learning process because they are required to produce solution and arguments for their study. Case study can reinforce the traditional teaching and learning methods because it acts as a bridge between theory and practice.
Structure of Case Study
A case study may consist of the following sections:
- Objective: The expected learning outcomes of the case that teachers want their students to develop (e.g. the application to the theory into a scenario).
- Description of the case: The way a teacher presents the case. It can be in the forms of diagram, newspaper journals and a scenario presented within a short paragraph. Of course, the case may not always be an exact mimic of real- life scenario. It is also possible that the case study is presented with some questions and instructions. Thus, the students can understand what is happening in the case and what they are trying to achieve.
- Preparation and Analysis: Some teachers may prefer providing the case study and some related questions to students prior class. Students have to prepare research materials and analyze the piece given in their own time, this will help reduce preparatory work during class time and also provide opportunities for the teacher to give valuable feedback.
- Discussion: If case study is practiced as a group activity, students can discuss their analysis and opinions with other group members. Students can be divided into different groups. For example, if the case is about the legislation of statutory minimum wage, then group A can look at the issue from the Governments perspective, group B can look at the issue from employers perspective, and Group C can look at the issue from the employees perspective.
- Presentation: It refers to the ways students present their opinions and findings. Students may be asked to report their analysis, findings and discussion through short presentation, poster, essay, debate and worksheet.
- Conclusion: Students conclude their findings and their views of the case.
- Feedback: Once everything is done, teachers can give some feedback on students performance.
|Take Time to Set|
|Take Time to Answer|
|Take Time to Correct|
|Take Time to provide Feedback|
|Y||Suitable for Large Class|
|Can substitute with Computers|
|Y||Process Oriented Method|
|Y||Product Oriented Method|
|P = Possibly Y =Yes|
Advantages of Case Study
- An opportunity to apply the theoretical concepts to a real-life scenario
- Encourage active and group learning
- Develop generic skills such as decision making, problem solving and collaboration skills
- The mimic of real-life scenario may enhance students engagement to the subject
- Stimulate students to carry out independent research outside the classroom
- Practice time management because students need to discuss and decide how to best carry out the work in class
- Some teachers may be reluctant to change to this new teaching modules (prefer talk and chalk approach)
- Time consuming to look for or create a case
- Students may be unfamiliar with this teaching and learning approach, teachers may need to take some time to explain the instructions
- Quieter students may find this approach challenging because they may have to work with other students
- Decide the topics, objectives, skills and learning outcomes that students will accomplish
- Create a case that students can apply the theoretical concept, ensure it is actually feasible
- Make sure the case fit into the context of the subject
- Decide the case study to be practiced as individual activity or group activity
- Assign the case to students before class, so that they have to do their research outside the class, or give the case to students in class, so that they can brainstorm ideas in class, or even ask students to look for a case based on their interests
- Teachers only supervise the in-class activity but do not give too much support or help
- Provide a few questions for students to do their analysis. This assists and guides students to develop "the best strategy" for problem solving in the case
- Be aware of the time allocation (such as the time for preparation and discussion)
- Provide feedback and comments on students performance after the activity has been finished
- Prepare for unexpected outcomes to emerge. As real-life cases are complex and open to different disciplines and opinions, there may be no right or authoritative answer in some scenarios, students may give answers that are innovative and out of the course context
- Invite people from related industries to supervise the activity. For example, if the case is about the safety crisis of a nuclear plant, teachers can invite some people from nuclear engineering to supervise the activity and share their first- hand experiences in relation to the case
- Make sure to provide guidelines and explanations to students as some of them may be unfamiliar with this teaching and learning approach
- Clear grading criteria
- Decide the way students would present their analysis. After students have finished their analysis, they have to share their findings and opinions with other teacher and students. They can present their work in the forms of oral presentation, short summary, poster and even debate with other groups. Teachers have to decide the form of presentation because they assess their students based on those presentation and poster
As there are many different approaches to practice Case Study, there are different assessment criteria. Teachers have to make sure the learning outcomes are aligned with the case for analysis (e.g. a scenario analysis or diagram analysis). In addition, teachers have to ensure that the grading criteria fit the format chosen for the case. Here is a sample marking rubrics for case study.
|Understand and apply the theory:||Showed a thorough understanding of the theory; able to concisely assess the case to apply the theoretical concept at a deep level||Showed a working understanding of the theory; able to satisfactorily assess the case but applied the theoretical concept at a surface level||Showed basic understanding of the theory; attempted to assess the case and apply the theoretical concept in a very limited level||Showed little understanding of the theory; poorly assessed the case and applied the theoretical concept|
|Problem solving skills:||Able to suggest and bring out appropriate solutions to the case; many solutions were provided; logical approach to seek for solutions was observed||Able to bring out some solutions; logical flow was still observed but there was a lack of relevance of the flow||Still able to bring out a few solutions on time; logical flow was hardly observed||Failed to bring out any solution to the case; logical flow was not observed|
|Creative opinions and solutions:||Able to come up with some innovative opinions; solutions were not those mentioned on textbook and lesson||Attempted to look for a few innovative opinions, some solutions were those not mentioned on textbook and lesson||Attempted to look for any innovative opinions; solutions were those mentioned on textbook and lesson||Failed to show or didnt attempt to give any innovative opinions; ideas were those on textbook|
|Case analysis:||A deep and critical analysis was made based on a wild range of inter-disciplinary perspectives||A satisfactory analysis was made; showed the attempt to analyze the case from a wild perspective but not deep and critical enough||Analysis was made based on the subject discipline at a surface level||Failed to make an analysis of the case with the context of the subject|
Web References and Resources
- Fry, H., Ketteridge, S. and Marshall, S. (1999).A Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 408.
- Grant, R. (1997). A Claim for the case method in the teaching of geography.Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 21,(2), 171-185.
- Mustoe, L. R. & Croft, A. C. (1999). Motivating Engineering Students by Using Modern Case Studies, European Journal of Engineering Education, 15,(6), 469-476.
- Raju, P. K. & Sankar C. (1999). Teaching Real-World Issues through Case Studies.Journal of Engineering Education, 88,(4), 501-508.
- Teaching Materials Using Case Studies, UK Centre for Materials Education, The Higher Education Academy
- Length: 1 hour (one tutorial)
- Course: Economics course
- Aim: To demonstrate some Economic concepts in the legislation of statutory minimum wage
- Assessment: Group work, presentation skills, application of Economic theories
- Case description:
An editorial from MingPao (10-11-2009)
Title: Minimum wage should be low
A minimum wage bill is now before the Legislative Council (Legco). The Liberal Party, which represents the business sector, has suggested that the minimum wage should be set at $24 an hour (about $5,000 a month), while most trade unions have demanded that it be at least $33 an hour (about $7,000 a month). This newspaper reported last Wednesday the government intends it to be near the former initially.
The government's idea is in keeping with the reality in Hong Kong. The higher the minimum wage is, the likelier it will be for the employment market to be distorted and for wage earners to lose their jobs. Therefore, the minimum wage should be low initially. It is necessary to observe how seriously the legislation will impact on the employment market before gradually adjusting it in the light of the actual situation.
As that is a mainstream view and a minimum wage bill has been presented to Legco, it is not realistic for business people (employers) to object to legislating for a minimum wage in principle or refuse to discuss how much the minimum wage should be or how the legislation should be enforced in practice. Employers and unionists should try to make a good job of the legislation and make sure that it will protect poorly-paid workers without considerably increasing unemployment.
If the minimum wage is too high, employers may make little profit, and many employees may become jobless. Even unionists cannot deny society may face such a danger. However, if the minimum wage is excessively low, society will only be exposed to the risk of having an ineffective policy. Poverty may still be a problem, but it would not worsen. And the government could then revise the policy to make it more forceful. Having weighed the pros and cons, we believe the minimum wage should be low initially. That would expose society to lower risk.
Minimum wage legislation is new to Hong Kong. It is unclear how it may impact on the employment market. It is therefore realistic to move forward very cautiously and set the minimum wage low initially lest the market should be seriously distorted.
Students will be divided into three different groups (representing the Government, employers and employees). Each group will be given ten minutes to present their ideas. Then, students will have 30 minutes to discuss the issue of the statutory minimum wage.To Reference these pages
Copy and paste the text below:
Chan C.(2009) Assessment: Case Study, Assessment Resources@HKU,
University of Hong Kong [http://ar.cetl.hku.hk]: Available: Accessed: DATE