This case study outlines collaborative group assessment activities set by Magdalyn Okolo (in 1st year unit) and Elnaz Bajoori (in 2nd year unit) in the department of Economics. The benefits of the first-year group work include: – reducing the marking load as the number of students on the units are around 400; it enables students to get to know some of their peers as it is the first assessment of the academic year and they are randomly allocated groups within their course cohorts, and it helps prepare them for 2nd year group work. The 2nd year assessment has a 72-hour window for submission and a clear set of rules to abide by.
Process and outputs
1st year group assessment task:
After the 3rd week of the unit the groups (each of 4-5 students) are randomly allocated. A formative group task is set, and there is support for the first 5 weeks from the Academic Skills Centre. For the summative assessment each group produces a 1000-word essay on a specific topic. Each student has 2 ‘check-in’ points to address any issues around group dynamics, and rates themselves and their peers. All students in the group share the same mark and any who fail to ‘check-in’ are followed up by staff.
2nd year group assessment task:
Students are randomly allocated into groups of 3-4, and are given 72 hours to complete a set of questions. The students are given clear guidance on regularity and timeliness of meetings and staff must be notified of any problems associated with the group dynamics prior to the deadline. Guidance is given on how long the students should work on the task in total. A cover sheet acts as a declaration that the group have not plagiarised, and that all group members made a fair and equal contribution.
- Excellent shared practice for setting groupwork assessments across different years, using the same clear parameters between units, enabling familiarity of groupwork etiquette for students with the opportunity to improve between years
- Use of FAQs to alleviate multiple efforts to contact staff
- Use of a declaration coversheet at the point of submission to declare acceptance of a fair contribution by each group member
- Students learn to work collaboratively with support to enable positive group dynamics
- Excellent level of engagement by students assisted by clarity of instruction and support