Managing and Assessing students in groups

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Managing and assessing students in groups
                         Dr Margaret Lloyd

                         Learning & Teaching Developer, TALSS
    Why work in groups?

        Experience of group work

        Although almost all students have the opportunity to practice group work, few feel that
         there is sufficient preparation for the experience. “ is just ‘form a group and go and
         do the work’, there is no structure or mention of how to do it.” While they are given
         criteria for success, they are not given techniques to overcome difficulties. In
         particular, they feel that they are not well equipped to handle conflict within the group
         and deal with group members who were not contributing appropriately. Group work in
         Civil Engineering is cited as a positive example of effective learning; the preparation
         provided by the lecturer and his willingness to intervene when required is appreciated.

        Students complain that group work is unfairly assessed. They are frequently only
         assessed on the outcome rather than the process of group work. “Group work is so
         unfair” “I hate group work” “there is no time to think about the process because it is all
         about the product or outcome.”

        There are rarely any consequences for students who do not contribute effectively to
         the group process. Students assert that more attention should be given to the
         selection of group members to provide a better match of abilities and motivation.

        Hart, G., & Stone, T. (2002). Conversations with students: The outcomes of focus groups with QUT students. Paper presented at the 2002
        HERDSA Conference. Retrieved March 13, 2009 from
    Why work in groups?

        Groupwork or team work is an essential component of
        workplaces. Replicating this experience in university studies
        is often quite difficult and students can be resistant to this
        valuable form of learning. This workshop will outline some
        strategies for forming groups, monitoring their progress and
        assessing their outcomes.
+   QUT Teamwork Protocol

     Just in time - Teamwork
    What the MOPP says…

       Teamwork develops interactive working techniques or
        introduces a social dimension to student learning. Teamwork
        is an effective strategy for tackling large, complex problems
        and/or sharing scarce resources. Minimising administrative
        workload associated with marking is not a rationale for the
        use of teamwork.
                The Zin Obelisk

       In the ancient city of Atlantis, a solid rectangular obelisk
        called a Zin was built in honour of the goddess Tina.

       The structure took less than two weeks to complete and your
        team’s task is to determine on which day of the Atlantian
        week it was completed.

       You may share the information you have on the cards you are
        given but you may not show your cards to other participants.

       Pay attention to some of the processes and dynamics at work
        while you collate your information and derive the answer to
        the question.
    Assessment of team work

       Assessment of team work is directly related to the learning
        outcomes and the learning and teaching approach.
        Depending on the purpose of teamwork (and related
        learning outcomes), assessment may include weighting for
        the product (e.g. report, presentation, simulated task, video),
        the team process, or both the product and the process.

    Assessment models
                           50            +2                  50

Equal distribution model           Redistribution model

                       22                                         12 + 40
                         47                                        13 + 40
                                        10 + 40
      44                      48                                       11 + 40
                                         15 + 40
                                          18 + 40

    Individual performance model        Individual plus team assessment model
    Scenario                                                          52%
    Equal distribution model

    Student X and Student Y are engaged in a group project. Two days
    before the submission date for this project, Student X complains to the
    tutor that Student Y has been contributing little to the project.

    What would you do?

    The project is submitted on time and is awarded a mark of 52%, which is
    given to both students. Student X then complains that her mark has been
    depressed by the lack of input from Y and requests consideration of this.

    What would you do?

    Staff meet with the two students; Student Y admits that she did not
    contribute fully to the project and agrees that her contribution
    represents about half the effort of Student X.

    What would you do?
    Scenario: what happened!

    As a consequence, it was decided that Student Y’s mark should be
    halved - to 26% - with Student X retaining the full 52%.
    But it doesn’t end there …

    Student X then disputed her mark remaining at 52% and suggested
    that her mark should be increased by Student Y’s penalty, that is, to
    be increased to 78%.

    How could this have been averted?
                                                                     52% 26%

                                                   52+26= 78%?
    Tuckman’s (1965) model

       Forming

       Norming

       Storming

       Performing

       Adjourning, mourning….

       Transforming, re-norming…
       Random groups – tutor-selection.
        names out of a hat, “you, you and you”

       Friendship groups – self-selection
        based on familiarity

       Selective allocation – specific criteria

       Topic groups – tutor selection based on
        topic/activity preference

       Expert groups – a think tank of students
        with differing specialisations or roles

       Opportunistic groups… who is sitting
        at your table!
    Forming… how many?

       Small teams… no fewer than 3

       Large teams … no more than 6

       Ask students to reflect on their progress to date—team members
        could submit team goals (short and long term) at the beginning of the
        project and these could be monitored verbally (through class
        presentations) focusing on the progress to-date of the team and team

       Monitoring team dynamics could involve team and teamwork
        exercises around personality types, role playing and teambuilding

       Build team meetings into tutorials so that this time can be used to
        discuss team progress.

       Ask team members to lodge their meeting minutes (this could be an
        online process) so that team activities and progress can be monitored.

       A redistribution model of assessment may be a fair system to deal with
        or prevent conflict in a team.

       Consider an autocratic approach to intervention—mandate task
        allocation, behaviour expectations and create goals and deadlines.

       Set aside specific times each week or fortnight to deal with team
        issues/counselling/problems—this could be organised as an in-class
        meeting for alternate teams at the beginning or end of each session.

       Include within the Team Contract a mechanism to deal with conflict.
        This could be a statement that could also be part of the course outline.

       Becoming a productive team

                                        Fun

                                        Sense of achievement

                                        The sum is greater than the

                                        Shared experience – formation
                                         of social and other connections.

       Groups can work…

       Attention needs to be paid to:
         matching group composition and size to the task;

         making assessment fair and transparent;

         monitoring group progress;

         establishing mechanisms for communication and conflict
          resolution from the beginning;
         setting simple reporting landmarks, and

         making the team project a visible part of learning.
+   QUT Teamwork Protocol

     Just in time - Teamwork

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