How to Create Better Group Work

25 January 2023

This week’s tip aims to address multiple issues that tend to pop up around group work -- student motivation, unequal workloads and commitment levels, and fair grading to name a few.

We talked about how MS Teams can facilitate group work in last week’s tip and in the Teaching with MS Teams workshop. Here are a few more tips: 

Provide Choice to Increase Motivation 

Research has shown that one way to increase intrinsic motivation in learners is to introduce as much student choice as you can. It would be naive to think that every topic in every course will be of interest to students. When possible, let students choose project topics and/or their group members. 

Make Space for Group Work During Class Time 

This concept relates to the teaching approach of the flipped classroom. Historically, group work has been treated as an out-of-class assignment – as homework. You can “flip” this by making space during timetabled hours for group work to occur. This gives you as the lecturer the ability to work more hands-on with your students by digging into specific conversations or questions they have. You can observe multiple groups at once, monitoring their progress and collaboration styles.  

Incorporate Peer Evaluation into the Assessment Rubric 

Part of the reason for creating group projects is to teach our students how to work collaboratively. If part of our goal is to teach them to work collaboratively, then part of their assessed grade should be on that skill. Your rubric for group work can, and perhaps should, include an assessment of not just the content or output of their project, but how they performed in their group. To obtain this score, allow group members to evaluate each other. Take the average peer evaluation score and add it to your overall assessment rubric. See Group Project Sample Rubrics for a specific example.  

To explore these tips in more depth, register for our How can I better support my group work? workshop on 1 February.