Assessing Group Work: The Options and the Opportunities
Online instructors often use group work as a way to divest some of the interaction involved in an online course. Not only can group work offset instructor workload, but it can foster a sense of community among learners (Bergtrom & Russell, 2010). Group work can also prepare students with the skillset to function as a team member in the workplace. However, one theme arises consistently in many of our Sloan-C workshops. What strategies can instructors utilize to effectively assess group work; particularly when individual efforts and group efforts intertwine? Indeed, assessment of group work is multi-dimensional and can include evaluation of one or more of the following: 1) group process, 2) group product, 3) individual contributions, 4) team member accountability, 5) self-evaluation, and 6) team member evaluation of each other (Barkley, Cross, & Major, 2005; Centre for the Study of Higher Education [CSHE], 2002).
Group process assessment takes into account how well the team forms, storms, norms, and performs as detailed in Tuckman’s group development model (Tuckman & Jensen, 2010). Contributions can be measured by team logs, minutes, or instructor observation (Barkley et al., 2005; CSHE, 2002). The group receives a shared grade. Group product assessment evaluates the group’s output which is based on the assignment’s learning objectives. Again, the group receives a shared grade (Barkley; CSHE).
To truly understand individual accountability; in other words, determining if an individual student has achieved mastery of a group project’s learning objectives, independent write-ups, journaling, or quizzes prove to be effective assessment tools (Barkley et al., 2005; CSHE, 2002). Self-evaluation uses pre-determined list of criteria, enabling the student to critically analyze his/her own contribution. In both cases, the student receives an individual mark (Barkley; CSHE). Team member evaluation enables students in the group to critically assess each other’s contributions using a pre-determined list of criteria. The student’s individual mark is derived from an average of the remaining team members’ evaluations (Barkley; CSHE).
In the recent Sloan-C workshop “Workload Management Strategies for Online Educators” (November 2010); participants reported using a combination of the methods detailed above. While these workshop participants did not feel any one methodology proved more effective than another, they did agree group assessment should encourage collaboration, positive interdependence, and individual accountability.
My Sloan-C colleague, Sandra Coswatte and I will be delving into group assessment practices in more detail during the Sloan-C workshop - Collaboration and Group Work: Using Teams Effectively that begins February 9th and runs for 10 days. In addition to examining self- and peer assessment tools; participants will also:
* Understand how to effectively facilitate group work by developing a group work plan and exploring tool options
* Learn strategies for problem resolution, behavioral guidelines, and factors affecting work group interaction.
To Register or for more information: http://bit.ly/eNsD6C
Barkley, E. F., Cross, K. P., & Major, C. H. (2005). Collaborative learning techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Bergtrom, G., & Russell, M. (2010, April). Using collaborative learning techniques (CoLTs) in blended courses. Paper presented at the 7th Annual Sloan Consortium Blended Learning Conference & Workshop, Chicago, Il.
Centre for the Study of Higher Education. (2002). Assessing learning in Australian universities. Retrieved from http://www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/assessinglearning/03/group.html
Tuckman, B., & Jensen, M. (2010). Stages of small-group development revisited. Group Facilitation, (10), 42-48. doi: 2123390051