Group Work and Assessment

Let’s assume that you are working on a group project in a class. You are ambitious about this project, but, two other team members are not that interested in the group project as you are: one member is always late in the group meeting or does not show up. Another member comes to the meeting, but does not want to work. The portions he wrote have errors all the time. In addition, he keeps criticizing and rejecting your works or ideas during the meeting without showing his works or other alternatives. You are tired of arguing with him. The due date is coming, but your group work has not proceeded. What would be your solution to this situation?

  1. Work everything alone, and just put the group name on that
  2. Stop being ambitious, give up your grade, and leave the situation as it is
  3. Talk to the professor that your team members are not working

I made the situation above based on the stories of some college students’ comments. A college student says that group work is communism. This method takes away his motivation, thus, he couldn’t learn anything from his group works; another student complains that group work is an outcome of professors’ laziness because group work is easier to grade than grading the whole students, also professors don’t need to prepare their lectures during the group presentations. College students express many kinds of negative opinions about group works on the web, but I realized that there was always one reason behind their complaints: they don’t want to share their “A” with a member who doesn’t work. We cannot blame this idea because it is true that getting “A” without any contribution to the group would be unfair.         

Reading the article, Making the Grade: The Role of Assessment in Authentic Learning written by Lombardi (2008), I found a wonderful table called “Peer Group Assessment Template.” The idea here is that students evaluate each other after their group works, which can be reflected in the final grade. If this table was utilized in the classes, the college students’ experiences about group works might have been different. But at the same time, I was questioning what if there was no grading or just pass/fail system related to those group works? If so, the fundamental reason of avoiding group work will disappear because students will not have “A” anymore that they should share with a lazy group member. I am not sure if the quality of the group work outcome will be better or worse without grading system, but I guess that the atmosphere of the group would be much more humane because they will see each other as friends rather than a manpower for achieving a better grade.