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Assessing Group Work
This KB document is part of a larger collection of documents on collaborative group work. More Group Work documents
Based on the article Walker, Charles J. “Assessing group process: Using classroom assessment to build autonomous learning teams.” Assessment Update 7(6) 1-2.
The use of group-based learning can yield high-quality and deeper learning when the group performs well. When groups fail to work well together, the results can be troubling and can quickly consume an instructor’s time trying to get them back on track. These differences in group performance are more likely to be caused by differences in group processes — in how groups work — than by differences in talent or achievement among individual members (Walker 1). In preparing for group work, most instructors would rather focus on setting up groups for success than on intervening when things go wrong. It is equally true that it is very difficult to predict which groups will succeed and which will fail, as students in groups don’t often know there are problems until it is too late. The best approach is the help student build effective and autonomous teams and to build systems that help instructors monitor groups to detect problems early in the process. The process described here is called the Group Process Assessment Technique (GPAT).
Structuring Group Work
- Pick a task that is worthwhile, feasible, and best done by, or only done by, a group.
- Set goals for the group that are specific and concrete and that allow unambiguous feedback on their accomplishments.
- Discuss and select strategies and procedures that will help the group achieve its goals within the time limits that have been set.
- Define and assign roles and duties that are exclusively faithful to the goals and procedures of the group.
- Acquire the resources (human effort and expertise, institutional, financial, informational, and time) that are necessary for the group to accomplish its goal (Walker 1).
- To enable students to learn social skills and organizational skills that will help them work effectively with others in small groups;
- To give the group, not the instructor, the responsibility for dealing with conflicts and other interpersonal problems;
- To promote team building that is autonomous and task-centered; and
- To facilitate group cohesiveness and interpersonal sensitivity (Walker 1).
Solicit feedback from students by creating an Ungraded Survey in the Canvas Quizzes tool. Direct each student to complete the survey early in the group process to ensure the group is functioning and to identify any issues or critical problems early on. Below is an example of questions you could ask in the survey.
- Is the work of your group worthwhile and challenging?
- Does your group have specific goals and objectives? If yes, list the specific goals here.
- Do the members of your group agree on the goals? Do you have a consensus on the priority of these goals?
- Has your group discussed strategies and procedures for attaining your goals? Have you identified any effective procedures?
- Does each member of your group have a defined role or responsibility to help your group do its work? If yes, list each group member and his/her role or responsibility.
- Does your group have the resources (skills and knowledge, time, and other essentials) that it needs to achieve its goals?