The ideas presented in this post are adapted from the approach of Oakley, Felder, Brent, and Elhajj (2004) in their excellent paper: Turning student groups into effective teams.  I have taken their general approach and applied it using digital forms and spreadsheets, as well as adjusted the grading criteria to suit my own classes.

There are a number of best practices that I recommend, such as introducing the evaluation at the beginning and asking students to complete it and share it with each other mid-way so that students who are not pulling their fair share or are dominating have a chance to adjust their approach (rather than only receiving this feedback when the project is completed).

In this post, I am leaping over a discussion of those practices for the moment to focusing on how to:

  • collect evaluations of team citizenship within a group project
  • adjust grades according to the results of the evaluations

Collect evaluations of team citizenship

Post a link to the peer evaluation on the course site with instructions on when to complete it.  The evaluation asks students for a rating of themselves and others, in regards to their team citizenship – that is, their participation, effort, and sense of responsibility.  The ratings include:

  • Excellent: Completed fair share of the workload, was very well prepared and co-operative.
  • Satisfactory: Did most of what they were supposed to do, were acceptably prepared and cooperative.
  • Ordinary: Did some of what they were supposed to do, was minimally prepared and cooperative.
  • Marginal: Failed to contribute or assist in completing tasks, was not co-operative.
  • Unsatisfactory: No participation at all

Regardless of the rating they give themselves, they are asked to explain why they gave that rating.

As for their classmates, they are only asked to explain their rating if it is a less than excellent rating. As a result, groups that worked well together will be very quick in completing the ratings and require no adjustment to the group grade.

Some other things that are good to know – this template works for groups of two to six members but can be adjusted for different sizes. There is skip logic in play so students will only be asked questions pertaining to the number of group members they have.

In my experience so far using this form (noting the best practices noted above), I have had excellent agreement between how group members rate themselves and how their teammates rate them. Discrepancies largely land in the territory of students being harder on themselves compared to their teammates.

You can download the template form here.

Adjust team grades according to evaluations as necessary

Below, see a video walking through my process and download the excel sheet I use to adjust team grades.

I say “as necessary” because I like to check first for groups that gave “excellents” all around. These students all receive the primary project grade and don’t need to be entered into the spreadsheet.

 

Why I use this approach

The reason I use this particular approach (adjusting the team grade) instead of the other common approaches (such as providing a separate grade for group peer evaluation) is because I think it’s more fair. Take the example of 2 students, Jo and Alena.  The project is worth 50% of the final grade, and the peer evaluation is worth 5% of the final grade. The team gets 84%, but everyone agrees that Jo was a stellar team mate (gets 5/5 for peer evaluation) and Alena barely showed up despite everyone’s best efforts to include her (gets 1/5 for peer evaluation).  So, out of a possible 55 marks towards their final grade, Jo gets 42+5=47 (a great grade) and Alena gets 42+1=43 (also a great grade!).

In the approach used here, the grades are adjusted based on team citizenship starting from the grade of 84. In the scenario above, Jo would get a bump up (85 – imagine how good the project could have been if she had teammates that contributed more!) and Alena gets 14 % because both she and her teammates ranked her as unsatisfactory and ordinary contributor. This is an extreme example that I have never actually experienced, and I would be intervening before it got to this point, but if Alena really did nothing, then the 84 was not earned by her.  

Reference

Oakley, B., Felder, R.M., Brent, R., and Elhajj, I.H. (2004). Vol 2, No 1, Turning student groups into effective teams. New Forums Press, Inc