How do you grade group or team work? I was speaking with Dave Davies today (who hopefully will have a future guest post on using Twitter in the classroom, by the way) about this issue and it seems we have some similar approaches to this.

For me, I tell my lab groups and my FYSEM groups that 90% of their grade will be based on the group work but that the last 10% will be voted on by the group. For those last 10 percentage points I give the group 8*(number of group members)+1 to divvy up. So for a group of four they get 33 points, for example. I tell the group that they need to meet and mutually decide the distribution of those points and write their decision in the final report for whatever the project is. I have a few basic ground rules. The points for any individual must be an integer but numbers greater than ten and less than zero are allowed.

The results have been interesting. I would say the most common breakdown is 8,8,8,9 for a four-person group but some of the outliers have been interesting. One of my favorites was 8,8,8,8 where the whole group gave up the last point in the interest of fairness. I’ve also seen 10,10,10,3 and 18,5,5,5. I don’t think I’ve seen 33,0,0,0 and I’ve rarely seen negative numbers. The hallway conversations have been interesting too as I’ve heard students say “I already have my C so I can take a zero.” This last one bothers me a little as grading shouldn’t be a game but in the end I’m glad they’re all talking about everyone’s contribution.

I came up with this back during the Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaisons with Industry (GOALI) grant when some 3M people were talking to us about the differences between group work and team work. Clearly the notion of needing to be there for each other but also to talk openly about various contributions is big at 3M.

Professor Davies was talking to me about how he gives every participant some points to divvy among the group. This is a different take but he sees similar upsides to his approach. So how do you grade group/team work?

Andy Rundquist “Superfly”

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