Assessing Teamwork/Group Work
What is effective teamwork?
In well-designed courses, teamwork does not refer to short-lived team-based activities (such as within a single lecture) or “patchwork” projects where students divide tasks, work mostly independently, and combine it together in the end. Rather, in well-designed teamwork projects, students work over the long term (more than during a single class) and know what they are meant to do, what their roles are, and have expectations of their teammates.
Why use teamwork in a course or program?Collaboration and teamwork skills are the top capability that companies are looking for in entry-level candidates (Hewitt, 2016). As well, when planned thoughtfully, students engaged in collaborative learning can obtain a number of benefits to their disciplinary learning, including:
- learning at a deeper level, by explaining their reasoning to others
- engaging more with material, leading to longer information retention (Davies, 2009)
- promoting problem-based learning and active vs. passive learning (Davies, 2009)
- improving their collaborative skills, including negotiating, communicating, and project management (Fellenz, 2006).
What is the best way to assess teamwork?
How you assess any project communicates your learning priorities to students. Assessment keeps students accountable to your expectations and lets them know what they should spend their time on. For team-based projects, assessment should take place throughout the collaborative process. If you only assess the final product of a team’s efforts, the students may complete the task but pay little attention to team functioning, and learn very little about the process of becoming a team (Hillier & Dunn-Jensen, 2012). It takes thoughtful assessment design to reap the benefits of teamwork and to assess students as fairly as possible.
This section suggests some ideas for assessing teamwork that could be combined or adapted for your course. These approaches demonstrate the importance you place on working in a team, as well as helping students to stay on track, and supporting them in openly discussing team functioning. An overarching theme is that fair assessment of teamwork evaluates both the final product and the process. However, given the specifics of the team assignment, it is up to the instructor to decide what charcteristics to assess at various points in the process.
8 ideas for assessing teamwork
Examples and resources for assessing teamwork
Peer assessment for teamwork
- Peer and self-rating of team members: Students peer and self-rate on criteria related to citizenship. Their ratings are used to adjust the final grade for each student, using an autorating system.
See: Team Member Evaluation form (Oakley, Felder, Brent, & Elhajj, 2004, p. 29-30).
- A system for anonymous and repeated peer rating: Students peer rate each other anonymously at a number of points throughout the course. They can see their own ratings and the aggregate ratings, but only the aggregate ratings are used to foster discussion about team functionality.
See: Team Effectiveness Feedback form and a Formal Team Assessment form (Hillier & Dunn-Jensen, 2012)
Team building worksheets
- Worksheets guide students to put their expectations of each other in writing, and to revisit team functioning part way through the course. See: Evaluation of Progress Toward Effective Team Functioning form (Oakley et al., 2004, p. 28).
- Worksheet with prompting questions to discuss team roles, responsibilities, and expectations. Hillier & Dunn-Jensen (2012, p. 722) suggest wording for a Team Charter worksheet, to help students discuss team expectations and functioning.
If you need further assistance with assessing teamwork, please contact us.
Davies, W. M. (2009). Group work as a form of assessment: common problems and recommended solutions. Higher Education 58 (563–584), doi: 10.1007/s10734-009-9216-y
Hewitt, A. (2016). Developing Canada’s future workforce: A survey of large private-sector employers. Ottawa : Business Council of Canada.
Hillier, J., & Dunn-Jensen, L.M. (2012). Groups meet… teams improve. Building Teams that Learn, 37(5), 704-733.
Oakley, B., Felder, R.M., Brent, R., & Elhajj, I. (2004). Turning student groups into effective teams. Journal of Student Centred Learning, 2(1), 9-34.
Wilson, K.J., Brickman, P., & Brame, C.J. (2018). Group work. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 17(1). Retrieved from http://lse.ascb.org/evidence-based-teaching-guides/group-work/