Groupwork as a form of assessment: common problems and recommended solutions
- 2.6k Downloads
This paper reviews some of the literature on the use of groupwork as a form of assessment in tertiary institutions. It outlines the considerable advantages of groupwork but also its systemic associated problems. In discussing the problems, the paper considers issues such as “free riding” and the “sucker effect”, issues associated with ethnic mix in groups, and the social dilemma problem—in which students face conflicting demands between altruism and self-interest. The paper then outlines several models of effective groupwork and makes suggestions for implementing groupwork tasks. The paper also looks at the key assessment tasks which are commonly employed—namely, additive, conjunctive, disjunctive and discretionary tasks—and assesses which are most suited to groupwork. The paper considers the related issues of task complexity, recognition for effort, and strategies for minimising issues concerning group size. The paper also briefly considers strategies for implementing incentives for groupwork members, and outlines the issue of penalties for unproductive group members. The paper concludes by providing recommendations for how to maximise the advantages of groupwork while trying to minimise the disadvantages.
KeywordsGroupwork Assessment Free-riding Sucker effect
The author would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for this journal for comments on earlier versions of this paper.
- Ackermann, A., & Plummer, S. (1994). Examination into the use, place and efficacy of group work in university courses: A work in progress report of a current research project. Paper presented at the Annual Australian Association for Research in Education, Newcastle, Australia. http://www.aare.edu.au/94pap/ackea94306.txt.
- Anderson, G., Boud, D., & Sampson, J. (1996). Learning contracts. London: Kogan Page.Google Scholar
- Bartlett, R. (1998). Making cooperative learning work in economics classes. In W. Becker & M. Watts (Eds.), Teaching economics to undergraduates: Alternatives to chalk and talk (pp. 11–34). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
- Bligh, D. (2000). What’s the point in discussion?. Exeter: Intellect Books.Google Scholar
- Bloom, B. S., Hastings, J. T., & Madaus, G. F. (1971). Handbook for formative and summative evaluation of student learning. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
- Bonacich, P., Shure, G. H., Kahan, J. P., & Meeker, R. J. (1976). Cooperation and group size in the N-person prisoner’s dilemma. The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 20, 687–706.Google Scholar
- Brooks, C., & Ammons, J. L. (2003). Free-riding in group projects and the effects of timing, frequency and specificity of criteria in peer assessments. Journal of Education for Business, 75(5), 268–272.Google Scholar
- Brooks, R., Scoufis, M., & McAlpine, I. (2006). Resources: Learning in groups. From http://www.edtec.unsw.edu.au/inter/dload/flex_ed/guides/studying/LearningInGroups.htm#Teamworkchecklist.
- Casey, C. (1995). Work, self and society: After industrialism. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Cohen, M. B., & Mullender, A. (2002). Gender and groupwork. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Connery, B. A. (1988). Group work and collaborative writing. Teaching at Davis, 14(1), 2–4.Google Scholar
- Corrigan, H. (2006). Retrieved 28/4/06, from http://www.marketingpower.com/content31619.php.
- Davis, B. G. (1993). Tools for teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
- Davis, B. G. (2002). Collaborative learning: Group work and study teams. Retrieved 23/3/06, from http://teaching.berkeley.edu/bgd/collaborative.html.
- Entwistle, N., & Waterston, S. (1988). Approaches to studying and levels of processing in university students. The British Journal of Educational Psychology, 58, 258–265.Google Scholar
- Handy, C. (1985). Gods of management: The changing work of organisations. London: Souvenir.Google Scholar
- International student enrolments Up 20.0% in October 2008 (2008). From https://aei.gov.au/AEI/MIP/ItemsOfInterest/08oio23.htm.
- Jaques, D. (2001). Learning in groups: A handbook for improving groupwork (3rd ed.). London: Kogan Page.Google Scholar
- Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (2004). Assessing students in groups. California: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Lee, C., Ng, M., & Jacobs, G. (1997). Cooperative learning in the thinking classroom: Research and theoretical perspectives. Paper presented at the International Conference on Thinking, Singapore.Google Scholar
- Maguire, S., & Edmondson, S. (2001). Student evaluations and assessment of group projects. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 25(2), 233–240. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/routledg/cjgh/2001/00000025/00000002/art00005.Google Scholar
- Melles, G. (2004). Understanding the role of language/culture in groupwork through qualitative interviewing. The Qualitative Report, 9(2), 216–240.Google Scholar
- Morgan, P. (2002). Support staff to support students: The application of a performance management framework to reduce group working problems. From http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/business/resources/archiverequest.
- Morris, R., & Hayes, C. (1997). In R. Pospisil & L. Willcoxson (Eds.), Learning through teaching (pp. 229–233). Perth: Murdoch University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf1997/morris.html.
- Mulvey, P. W., & Klein, H. J. (1998). The impact of perceived loafing and collective efficacy on group goal processes and group performance. Organizational Behavior and Group Decision Processes, 74(1), 62–87. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9705813.
- Nance, T., & Mackey-Kallis, S. (1997). Can’t you just talk to them? Small group work in a senior thesis course. Paper presented at the 83rd Annual meeting of the National Communication Association, Chicago, Ill.Google Scholar
- Ravenscroft, S. P. (1997). In support of cooperative learning. Issues in Accounting Education, 12(1), 187–190.Google Scholar
- Ruel, G., Bastiaans, N., & Nauta, A. (2003). Free riding and team performance in project education. International Journal of Management Education, 3(1), 26–38.Google Scholar
- Scoufis, M. (2000). Integrating graduate attributes into the undergraduate curricula. Unpublished manuscript, University of Western Sydney.Google Scholar
- Steiner, I. D. (1972). Group process and productivity. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Stephenson, J., & Laycock, M. (1993). Using learning contracts in higher education. London: Kogan Page.Google Scholar
- Strobe, W., Diehl, M., & Abakoumkin, G. (1996). Social compensation and the Köhler effect: Toward a theoretical explanation of motivation gains in group productivity. In E. H. Witte & J. H. Davis (Eds.), Understanding group behavior (Vol. 2): Small group processes and interpersonal relations (pp. 37–65). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Watkins, R. (2004). Groupwork and assessment: The handbook for economics lecturers. Economics Network, from http://www.economicsnetwork.ac.uk/handbook/printable/groupwork.pdf.