Group Work: How to Evaluate It

Students working in small groups often learn more and demonstrate better retention than students taught in other instructional formats. When instructors incorporate group assignments and activities into their courses, they must make thoughtful decisions regarding how to organize the group, how to facilitate it, and how to evaluate the completed work.

Instructor Evaluations

  • Create a rubric to set evaluation standards and share with students to communicate expectations.
  • Assess the performance of the group and its individual members.
  • Give regular feedback so group members can gauge their progress both as a group and individually.
  • Decide what criteria to base final evaluations upon. For example, you might weigh the finished product, teamwork, and individual contributions differently.
  • Consider adjusting grades based on peer evaluations.

Peer Evaluations

Consider providing a rubric to foster consistent peer evaluations of participation, quality, and quantity of work.

  • This may reveal participation issues that the instructor might not otherwise know about.
  • Students who know that their peers will evaluate them may contribute more to the group and have a greater stake in the project.
  • Completing evaluations early in the project allows groups to assess how they can improve.

General Strategies for Evaluation

  • Ensure that groups know how each member is doing by integrating assessment throughout the project.
    • Groups need to know who may be struggling to complete assignments, and members need to know they cannot sit back and let others do all the work. You can assess individual student progress by giving spot quizzes and evaluate group progress by setting up meetings with each group to review the project status.
  • Give students an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of their group. 
    • Once or twice during the group task, ask group members to fill out a group and/or peer evaluation to assess team effectiveness. Consider asking “What action has each member taken that was helpful for the group? What action could each member take to make the group more effective?”
  • Give students an opportunity to evaluate themselves.
    • Help students reflect on what they have learned and how they have learned it. Consider asking students to complete a short survey that focuses on their individual contributions to the group, how the group interacted together, and what the individual student learned from the project in relation to the rest of the course.
  • Decide how to grade members of the group.
    • Explain your grading system to students before they begin their work. The system should encourage teamwork, positive interdependence, and individual accountability. If you are going to consider the group’s evaluation of each member’s work, it is best to have students evaluate each other independently and confidentially.

Example Group Work Assessment Rubric

Here is an example of a group work assessment rubric. Filling out a rubric for each member of the group can help instructors assess individual contributions to the group and the individual’s role as a team player.

This rubric can also be used by group members as a tool to guide a mid-semester or mid-project discussion on how each individual is contributing to the group.

Example of a Group Work Assessment Rubric
Skills

4 Advanced - exceeds expectations

3 Competent - meets expectations

2 Progressing - does not fully meet expectations

1 Beginning - does not meet expectations

Contributions & Attitude Always cooperative. Routinely offers useful ideas. Always displays positive attitude. Usually cooperative. Usually offers useful ideas. Generally displays positive attitude. Sometimes cooperative. Sometimes offers useful ideas. Rarely displays positive attitude. Seldom cooperative. Rarely offers useful ideas. Is disruptive.
Cooperation with Others Did more than others. Highly productive. Works extremely well with others. Did own part of workload. Cooperative. Works well with others. Could have shared more of the workload. Has difficulty. Requires structure, directions, and leadership. Did not do any work. Does not contribute. Does not work well with others.
Focus, Commitments Tries to keep people working together. Almost always focused on the task. Is very self-directed. Does not cause problems in the group. Focuses on the task most of the time. Can count on this person. Sometimes focuses on the task. Not always a good team member. Must be prodded and reminded to keep on task. Often is not a good team member. Does not focus on the task. Lets others do the work.
Team Role Fulfillment Participates in all group meetings. Assumes leadership role. Does the work that is assigned by the group. Participates in most group meetings. Provides leadership when asked. Does most of the work assigned by the group. Participates in some group meetings. Provides some leadership. Does some of the work assigned by the group. Participates in few or no group meetings. Provides no leadership. Does little or no work assigned by the group.
Ability to Communicate Always listens to, shares with, and supports the efforts of others. Provides effective feedback. Relays a lot of relevant information. Usually listens to, shares with, and supports the efforts of others. Sometimes talks too much. Provides some effective feedback. Relays some basic information that relates to the topic. Often listens to, shares with, and supports the efforts of others. Usually does most of the talking. Rarely listens to others. Provides little feedback. Relays very little information that relates to the topic. Rarely listens to, shares with, or supports the efforts of others. Is always talking and never listens to others. Provides no feedback. Does not relay any information to teammates.
Accuracy Work is complete, well-organized, error-free, and done on time or early. Work is generally complete, meets the requirements of the task, and is mostly done on time.  Work tends to be disorderly, incomplete, inaccurate, and is usually late. Work is generally sloppy and incomplete, contains excessive errors, and is mostly late.

Total Points ______

Notes and Comments:

Resources

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

Johnston, L., & Miles, L. (2004). Assessing contributions to group assignments. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 29(6), 751-768.

Oakley, B., Felder, F. M., Brent, R., & Elhajj, I, (2004). Turning student groups into effective teams. Journal of Student Centered Learning, 2(1) 9-34.