Group Responsibility

I’m in the middle of a new project where students are learning about how electricity is generated.  They are working in large groups (5-6) mainly because that how big my tables are.  I would prefer to do this project with groups of 3-4 so there can be a little more accountability for each student but I’m working with what I got. 

Group projects have been a struggle for me because often the work that is completed isn’t exactly equal.  I often did not like them when I was a student because I had members who didn’t pull their weight.  For this project I set up their grades into three categories: Group Grade, Individual Grade, and Peer Grade. 

The project has a checklist of 10 components, which works well with  my 5 person groups.  They get a group grade that is 10 points, one for each component.  Each member is the leader of 2 parts of the project and will receive 2 points per components for an additional 4 points.  Finally, the group members will grade each other at the end of the project and will get the peer-determined fraction of 2 additional points.  I like this set up because each day there is at least one person who is leading a section and had extra motivation to help encourage the group to get their work done, and everyone shares some credit for that day’s work.  If a group has one member who does nothing, the people that complete their work could get 14/16 points (87.5% B).  An A grade required a group to find a way to work together, but if a member doesn’t pull their weight, the rest of the group isn’t hurt that much.  If that member receives a zero for the peer grade, they will get 8/16 (50% F).  I feel like this is a pretty fair system because you can get a high B if you and most members do their work and students who do not complete anything get an F. 

I also like the project aspect because they have a clear idea of everything that must be completed and know exactly how to get any grade.  The days are planned out so it is up to them to finish on time.  While behavior isn’t perfect, many classes are getting a lot of work done because even if individual students don’t care, the rest of their group does.  I’m also interested in other models of group grading, such as getting a lump sum of points as a group and agreeing as a group how to split those points up.  I think the system I have is better when first learning to work as a group because it is clearer who will get how many points.  The lump sum of points system would be a fun way to do future projects once they have a bit of experience.

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