Group work

1. The University recognises the importance of the quality of the student learning experience and the necessity for assessments to be regarded as valid, transparent and fair by lecturers and students.

2. Group work is recognised as:

  • improving the overall quality of student learning

  • helping the development of specific skills sought by employers

  • reducing the workload involved in assessing, grading and providing feedback to students

3.   Using group work is not without its difficulties. This guidance aims to:

  • facilitate student understanding of group work practice

  • enable students to develop as collaborative learners

  • provide a systematic approach to assessed group work

  •  ensure good practice in the ethical conduct and management of group work assessment

Designing group work

4.   The criteria for the selection of group members should be made transparent.

5.   Lecturers should consider resit provision at the point of the design of group work activity.

 Setting up group work

 6.   There is strong evidence that groups pass through a sequence of five stages of development:

  • Forming, or coming together

  • Storming, or conflict

  • Norming, or working out the rules

  • Performing, or getting the job done

  • Mourning, or breaking up.

7.   Students should be clear about their responsibilities in carrying out assessed group work, both in respect to one another and with respect to any requirements made by their lecturers.  The students’ roles and responsibilities can be classified in 4 ways, depending on the task.

8.   Participants should be aware that individuals may hold different value orientations to group work learning and that difficulties with inter personal dynamics may arise.

9.   The criteria by which processes and /or products are to be assessed should be available and discussed with students in advance of the assessment.

10. Participants should be confident that the assessment of an individual’s contribution to the group work assignment is fair.

Assessing group work

11. The way the group work is assessed should reflect the task.

12. Peer assessment may be used in a variety of ways, for example, to provide formative feedback to group members on how their group presentation is perceived by their peers.  

13. Where the product is the primary focus of the assessment, lecturers should consider including a collective mark for the quality of the project outcome and an individual grade reflecting the contribution of the individual student.

14. The mechanism for determining the final grade/mark should be transparent and fully justified in the assignment guidance. Assessment guidelines should address minimum level of collaboration.

15. The following criteria may be used for assessment purposes:

  • regular meeting attendance

  • equity of contribution

  •  evidence of cooperative behaviour

  • appropriate time and task management

  • application of creative problem solving

  • use of a range of working methods

  • appropriate level of engagement with task

  • development of professional competencies

  • evidence of capacity to listen

Recommendations

16. NILE sites, as appropriate, should include guidance on group work.  The educational reasons for assessed group work should be explained to students together with the future value of group working skills.

17. It is recommended that students be given information that answers the following questions:

  • Why are we doing this work in groups and not individually?

  •  What is the advantage of group work here?

  • How does doing this group activity help me achieve the learning outcomes for this subject or module?

18. It is good practice to distinguish co-operation, and collaboration from collusion and plagiarism and make these distinctions clear to their students.

19. Explicit and transparent procedures should be made available and explained to students undertaking group work.

20. Academic staff supervising group work should make advance plans for students whose groups disband.


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