eCoaching Tip 10 Assessing Group Projects

April 21, 2006

E-Coaching Tip 10: Assessing Group Projects

Now it is time for the third of three tips focusing on the Why and How of Group Projects within Online Courses.  This tip focuses on ideas and approaches for assessing group projects.

A common thread among all projects — whether they are individual or group projects — is that projects are powerful and satisfying teaching and learning strategies.   First projects provide an opportunity for students to customize the learning goals to their particular life/work goals, making the learning experience meaningful to students. Secondly, projects provide a way for faculty to “see” into the minds of the students.   Projects — that have products, such as papers, presentations, and actions — make students’ thinking and learning visible.  Projects require students to link the new content to their existing knowledge store, creating that larger networked knowledge structure in their heads.

You may want to think particularly about question #7 — Is there a way to have students participate in the review and grading of projects?   Involving students in the process of review is another way of building networking and collaboration among the students themselves and deepening that peer-to-peer dialogue.   Students often will need coaching in the process of doing this, but again the skills of evaluation and honest and fair review of work are very valuable cross-functional skills.  Hopefully, you will find the Peer Assessment form that is included useful as a starting point for your own needs.

The questions and answers for assessing group projects provide ways of looking at both product and process. This is a huge topic that is just lightly touched on here.  As experienced teachers, you all most likely have many additional ideas, stories and questions on this topic. When you are so-inclined, send a note as to what you have found useful or what has definitely not worked for you!

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The Why and How of Group Projects within Online Courses — Part Three of Three:  Assessing Group Projects

6. How do I assess group projects?

Online group projects can be graded in much the same way that they are in the classroom-based learning environment.  It is the quality of the end product that is important.  The project should be successful in demonstrating how the groups achieved the desired learning goals and objectives for the project.

Thus, for campus classes and for online classes alike, the single most useful tool in assessing group projects is the project-grading rubric that you develop at the same time that you create and design the group project.  This also suggests that in your discussions about the project that you also discuss and refer to the metrics for evaluating and assessing the project.  This helps to ensure awareness, understanding and no surprises!

The rubrics presented in the FAQ on discussion postings are a good place to start when developing rubrics for projects.   Simple scales of 4-5 points or 1-4 levels are often most workable.  Here are some of the criteria areas that you may want to consider. Note that the criteria include metrics for both the process of teamwork as well as the product.

  • The process of how the team worked. For example, how effective were the various team members in participating in the group formation, tasks and finished product. This is the classic “process” in addition to the “learning product.”
  • The actual product itself. How well the product captured and accomplished the intended goals and objectives. Criteria such as innovativeness, thoroughness, readiness for action, and professionalism might be considered.
  • The presentation of the product to the larger group.
  • The participation in the peer reviews and evaluations of the product.

An excellent resource for more detail about assessing group projects is the website for the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Melbourne, Australia. www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/assessinglearning/03/group.html.  You may also find this useful in developing your rubrics for your project.   Other good resources are in the reference and website section of this FAQ.

7. Is there a way to have students participate in the review and grading of projects?

An effective tool for encouraging effective and appropriate participation in teams is a peer review process. As with any assessment, this part of the assessment is ideally introduced at the original introduction of the team project.  Informing the teams at the beginning of the project that their peers will have a say in their grades sends the message that being a good team member is an important part of the project.

Here’s a sample peer assessment form that you may wish to adapt and use depending on the nature of the particular project in your course: 

Team Member Evaluation Form

Team Member Name:                                                                                  

Using your best, objective and fair professional analysis, complete the following evaluation form concerning your team member’s performance on your team presentation.

The LEVEL of effort this team member gave toward the presentation was…

Below Expectation                       Met Expectation                           Above Expectation

The QUALITY of that effort was…

Below Expectation                       Met Expectation                           Above Expectation

The INPUT this team member contributed to the team discussions was…

Below Expectation                       Met Expectation                           Above Expectation

How would you rate this team member’s level of cooperation?

Below Expectation                       Met Expectation                           Above Expectation

How would you rate this team member’s level of time on the presentation?

Below Expectation                       Met Expectation                           Above Expectation

This team member attended team meetings…

Below Expectations                      As Expected

This team member met team deadlines…

Below Expectations                      As Expected

How would you rate this team member’s OVERALL work and contribution to this presentation?

Below Group Grade                     Same as Group Grade                  Above Group Grade

Additional comments regarding this team member’s work on this presentation:

                                                                                                                                               

Each member should submit a form for every team member as well as themselves.  Question #8 is really the crucial question.  Sometimes a team member may feel disgruntled about a particular behavior of a team mate but overall still rates the team member as having done a good job.  It’s only in those cases that the team feels that the grade should be lowered that I usually consider doing so.

References

Moskal, Barbara M. (2000). Scoring rubrics:what, when and how? Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 7(3). Retrieved July 12, 2005 from <PAREonline.net/getvn.asp?v=7&n=3>

Websites

Assessing Group Projects. (One of Five Practical Guides) Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Melbourne, Australia.  www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/assessinglearning/03/group.html.  Accessed on October 26, 2005.

Central Michigan University Assessment Toolkit website <www.provost.cmich.edu/assessment/toolkit/toolkit.htm> Accessed on July 10, 2005.

North Carolina State University assessment website. Internet Resources for Higher EducationOutcomes Assessment.  (2003, February.)

Note: These E-coaching tips were initially developed for faculty in the School of Leadership & Professional Advancement at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. This library of tips has been organized and updated through 2016  in the second edition of the  book, The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips coauthored with Rita Marie Conrad. Judith can be reached judith followed by designingforlearning.org.