November 7, 2008

Effective Group Projects

Teaching and LearningWorkshop
Collaborative skills are essential skills that students must learn in order to succeed in their chosen fields. How can we teach students collaborative skills? Through group projects.
While most students grumble at the announcement of group work, there are ways to make group work more rewarding and effective. In an article titled “Collaborative peer evaluation: Best practices for group member assessments,” Lisa Gueldsenzoph and Gary May provides a useful checklist for effective peer evaluation. This includes:

  • Make sure students understand the who, what, when, why, and how of the assessment BEFORE the group project begins.

  • Create a peer evaluation tool that is specific to the purpose, goals, and tasks of the group project.

  • Be the “guide on the side” as a resource to students and to ensure whole group participation.

  • Ensure content of the quantitative peer evaluation form is measurable to discourage popularity points.”

  • Use formative (mid-process) evaluations not as a grading device, but to keep the group on track and to resolve problems as they occur.

  • Use summative evaluations that allow students to evaluate their own role in the group as well as each of their group members.

  • At the conclusion of the group project and evaluation process, seek students’ input to assess the overall experience.

Gueldsenzoph and May also include a peer evaluation form that can be adapted and used with your group assignments.

If you would like to learn more about creating effective group projects in you classroom, the Center is hosting a discussion titled, Designing Effective and Meaningful Group Projects on Friday, January 9 from 10-11:30. Register for this workshop here.

Gueldenzoph, L. E. & May, L. G. (2002). Collaborative peer evaluation: Best practices for group member assessments. Business Communication Quarterly, 65(1), 9-20.

How do you design group projects?

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