Worksheet Wednesday – Team Assessment
Why don’t my students know how to collaborate? Why do they only ever divide and conquer? I realized over time that this was the wrong question, a classic “it’s me, not you” scenario.
Worksheet Wednesday is a new feature on the Agile Faculty blog. Each month, I’ll introduce a new theme, a practical worksheet, and tips and strategies for using the worksheet in your faculty work. The first Worksheet Wednesday worksheet asked you to think about how to set up students groups for success from the outset of a group project.
If you are a long time reader of the blog, you know that all of my work with Scrum started with a teaching problem – Why don’t my students know how to collaborate? Why do they only ever divide and conquer? I realized over time that this was the wrong question, a classic “it’s me, not you” scenario. I wanted them to collaborate but did not give them projects that actually required real collaboration (instead of cooperation) nor did I actually teach them other ways to collaborate. They did what they knew how to do because they didn’t have any other strategies. And I never really told them why they were in a team with these specific peers to begin with. I had more work to do in order to set them up for success.
Why don’t my students know how to collaborate? Why do they only ever divide and conquer?
Last month, I offered a worksheet for intentionally putting groups together and helping new student teams prepare to be successful at the outset. While October is using the time we start assigning group projects, November is often the time we starting collecting and assessing them (yes, there should be a lot of support in the middle).
I recently did a workshop on equitable grading with my colleagues at the Center for Teaching and Learning at Georgia Tech; grading is going to be an issue that our campus community will be studying and reviewing very closely during the coming months. We based the workshop on central principles in Joe Feldman’s Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms.
One of Feldman’s main critiques of current grading practices is that what faculty consider “fair” practices might not actually be equitable practices. In terms of group projects, he argues that assigning a team score on the final product can be inequitable and punish (or benefit) students by not accurately representing the actual learning that student achieved. Norm-based grading such as this and curving do not should the learning gains of individuals.
But how to grade group projects is certainly a gray area in which faculty do different things to ensure students both learn the material and how to work together. Team evaluations are often used to allow students to tell the faculty member what they think each member contributed to the project, but this practice can be easily biased. This month’s worksheet will cover a comprehensive way to have students self-assess themselves and their team members in terms of both contributions to the product created and the process used to get there.
This is one of my favorite teaching tools, and I can’t wait to share it with you next week!