There is no single best way to evaluate group work. However, there are some helpful principles that can make grading less arbitrary and appear more fair to students. Evaluation and assessment are a means to an end; they allow instructors to investigate what we hold dear as educators. Good assessment and evaluation also recognizes that deep learning is seen in performance over time. Good assessments and evaluations work best when they are clearly explained. In order to develop useful assessments, instructors have to decide what to evaluate and how to measure achievement.
Decide What to Evaluate
If collaboration is a valued skill, then it merits training and evaluation. Scaffold the assignments and assessments so students have ample low stakes practice opportunities.
Make Collaboration a Measurable Course Objective and Plan on Assessing Collaboration Throughout the Course
Assess not only the product the students develop but also the process they use for collaboration. Provide opportunities for practice that are low stakes before any large project is due.
Create Rubrics that Will Allow You and the Students to Track Their Own Progress
Include space and time for regular self, group, and peer evaluations.
- Barkley, E. F., Cross, K. P., & Major, C. H. (2014). Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty (Vol. Second edition)
- Mary Burns (George Lucas Educational Foundation): 5 Strategies to Deepen Student Collaboration
- Teaching Beyond the Podium podcast (Center for Teaching Excellence, University of Florida): Leveling Up Project-Based Learning | Transcript (.pdf)
- Teaching Beyond the Podium Podcast (Center for Teaching Excellence, University of Florida): Active Game Learning
- Health Science Center Faculty Development (University of Florida): TBL at UF
- Team-Based Learning: TBL Collaborative
- Health Science Center Faculty Development (University of Florida): TBL Resources
- Center for Teaching Innovation (Cornell University): Getting Started with Evaluating Group Work
- L.K. Michaelsen & M. Sweet (2008). TBL Backward Design (.pdf)
- Barbara L. Smith & Jean T. MacGregor (1992). What is Collaborative Learning? (.pdf)
- C.J. Brame & R. Biel (2015). Setting Up and Facilitating Group Work: Using Cooperative Learning Groups Effectively