Evaluating Group Projects

Do you want to assign group projects, but are unsure of how to grade them fairly? Here is some information on how to assess students work and how to implement collaborative learning into the classroom.

Tips for planning a Group Project

  • Give students clear directions and specific criteria for project.
  • Form groups of three - five students.
  • Ask students to establish group expectations and norms.
  • Give students real problems to solve.
  • Promote group cohesion by informing the students of a group and individual evaluations.
  • Allow risks and mistakes.
  • Set time frames to check progress.
  • Hold individual members responsible for group sub tasks.

Establishing Group Rules and Norms

Myers (1992) suggests the following classroom rules:

  • Each member of a group is responsible for his/her own work and behavior.
  • Group members must help any other group members who ask for it.
  • No member of the group can ask the teacher for help unless all members of the group have the same question.

Sometimes, it is helpful to ask group members to articulate their expectations for the learning team. See this form to help groups do that. Take 15 - 20 minutes to do the following. First ask EACH individual student to write down answers to the following questions: "When you work with a group what do you expect OTHERS to do/act?" and "What do you expect your TEAM will accomplish this semester?" (form for this) Then get the group members together to review the individual and group expectations and outline BOTH individual expectations for EACH member of the group and the expectations for the team as a group. The group should also consider and discuss any repercussions and/or consequences of NOT living up to team expectations? The last step is for the team members all sign off on expectations.

Techniques for Evaluating Group Projects

  • Peer / Self Evaluation of Roles - Students rate themselves as well as other group members on specific criteria, such as responsibility, contributing ideas, finishing tasks, etc. This can be done through various grading forms or having students write a brief essay on the group/members strengths and weaknesses.
  • Individual Journals - Students keep a journal of events that occur in each group meeting. These include who attended, what was discussed and plans for future meetings. These can be collected and periodically read by the instructor, who comments on progress. The instructor can provide guidance for the group without directing them.
  • Minutes of Group Meetings - Similar to journals are minutes for each group meeting, which are periodically read by the instructor. These include who attended, tasks completed, task planned, and contributors to various task. This provides the instructor with a way of monitor individual contributions to the group.
  • Group and Individual Contribution Grades - Instructors can divide the project grade into percentage of individual and group contribution. This is especially beneficial if peer and self evaluations are used.

Example Forms

These are some sample forms for evaluating group projects:

References and Resources

More information on this and other subjects is available from the Walker Teaching Resource Center at 401 Hunter Hall. The following list of articles will be beneficial for future study.

  • Carter, J. H. (1995). Dealing with parasites in group projects. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Assoc. (81st, San Antonio TX, Nov. 18-21, 1995). ERIC # ED 392 100.
  • O'Quin, K. (1996). Depth by doing: Cooperative research projects in social psychology. In Proceedings  of the Annual Conference on Undergraduate Teaching of Psychology. (10th, Ellenville NY, March 20-22, 1996) ERIC # ED 405 031
  • Mason, E. (1972). Collaborative Learning. New York: Agathon Press, Inc.
  • Dale, H. (1997). Co-authoring in the classroom: Creating and environment for collaboration. Theory and Research into Practice (TRIP) Series. National Counsel of Teachers of English, Urbana, Ill. ERIC # ED 402 625
  • Keaten, J. A. & Richardson, M. E. (1992). A field investigation of peer assessment as part of the student group grading process. Paper presented at the Western Speech Communication Association convention. (Albuquerque NM, Feb. 14, 1992). ERIC # ED 361 753
  • Strong, G. (1993). Teaching writing with small groups. In Thought Currents in English Literature, vol. LXVI, Dec. 1993. ERIC # ED 396 29