Design and manage group assessments

Assessment always starts with knowing what it is used you want to assess. Once you know this, consider if a  group assessment task will help to gather the evidence you need for assessment. Once you are sure it is appropriate, then consider how groups will be formed, how student learning and group processes will be supported, and how students will be evaluated.

For more involved projects that take place over a longer period of time and for which students will be graded, plan each stage of the group work to provide feedback and opportunities to observe the progress of the groups.

It is worth spending time before the groups are formed explaining to students the benefits and value of the group assessment task, how this is used to assess against the relevant learning outcomes, and how working in teams mirrors common ways of working within various professional and community settings. Explaining the criteria for assessment, including the group-based and individual criteria, is also important.

Combining group and individual marks

A more equitable method of evaluating group assessment is to use a combination of group and individual marks.

You may want to allocate a percentage of the mark towards an individual mark, meaning students can be allocated appropriate marks based on their contribution, effort, and work. For example, if your group assessment task is worth 40% of the students’ final mark for the unit, you could split this into 30% for the final outcome/product, and 10% as an individual mark.

An educator’s individual marks should only be given for criteria that can be measured and should not be based on your observations of what may (or may not) have occurred in the group. For example, individual marks for effort should be based on direct evidence, not on your perception of (or other students’ comments about) their efforts. For example, if a student approaches you to discuss a conflict with another group member, this should not be used as evidence that the student being complained about is making no effort in the group. As a result, it is not always ideal for educators to be responsible for awarding the entire individual mark as they have not been involved in all of the processes that groups undertake to complete a group assessment.

One way to overcome this is to implement both self- and peer evaluation as an element of the assessment. This can include a mix of team ranking activities, self -evaluation, self-reflection, reflection on group processes, or other valid methods of evaluating individual contributions to group work.