Group assessment involves two or more students working together on an assessment outcome, and provides opportunities for social learning. Group assessment also provides opportunities to develop and reflect on a host of transferrable skills, including: collaboration, listening and feedback, communication, creativity, negotiation, leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, creative thinking, time/task management and the development of divergent solutions.
Appropriate - Group assessments are normally determined at the point of programme approval. It is recognised that not all assessment types lend themselves to group work. However, complex assessments or those involving the application of social skills will require contributions from more than one participant for successful outcomes e.g. oral assessments, projects and the staging of events.
Planned - Group assessments need to be carefully planned in advance, setting out expectations and marking criteria. Poorly designed group assessments can lead to conflict between members and overall student dissatisfaction. Reassessment opportunities for students with, or without, mitigating circumstances also need to be considered, especially if outcomes are dependent on more than one contributor.
Understood - Students need to understand the rationale for the group assessment (nature of the assessment and/or benefits of transferrable skills development). Equitable – Tutors need to generate a fair mark scheme which ideally recognises both the overall team outcomes, as well as individual contributions (see Good Practice).
Reflective - A reflective component should be built into group assessments which allows students to reflect on their development of transferrable skills and the team contribution of individual members.
Assessment mark allocation should be determined and made clear in advance of the activity. You may wish to include the students in selecting a method. Mark allocation methods include:
- Allocating a proportion of marks for overall group outcomes and the remainder for individual team contribution, measured by an individual reflective piece and/or portfolio of evidence.
- Awarding a mark to the group which is equal to the outcome mark multiplied by the number of members of the group. Members are then asked to divide the marks between them based on a set of criteria e.g. contribution, attendance, time allocated, team work ethic etc. This can be done anonymously.
- Splitting the assessment into individual components and marking each element separately. This is beneficial as each group member is awarded for their own contributions equitably. However, caution should be exercised with this method as it reduces the incentive for members to work as a team.
- Awarding each group member the same overall mark is a straight forward method which can be used effectively for early lower-impact assessments (small percentage, HE4) and it reflects how team project outcomes are recognised in the workplace. Again, caution should be exercised with this method as it may give rise to equity issues.
Case Study: Law Group Assessment
Fellenz, M. R. (2006). Toward Fairness in Assessing Student Groupwork: A Protocol for Peer Evaluation of Individual Contributions. Journal of Management Education, 30(4), pp.570-591.
Francis. N., Allen, M. And Thomas, J. (n.d.) Using Group Work for Assessment – an Academic’s Perspective – Advance HE. [Online]. Available from: https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2022-03/Using%20group%20work%20for%20assessment%20%E2%80%93%20an%20academic%E2%80%99s%20perspective.pdf
Francis, N. (2022), I love group work… said no student ever! [Online]. Available from: https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/news-and-views/i-love-group-worksaid-no-student-ever
Jisc (2023), Assessing Group Work: Transforming Assessment and Feedback with Technology. [Online]. Available from: https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2022-03/Using%20group%20work%20for%20assessment%20%E2%80%93%20an%20academic%E2%80%99s%20perspective.pdf