Designing Constructive Group Work

It can be challenging for students to collaborate on group projects. Students may not be able to meet face-to-face right before class or on the weekends. Structured and designed effectively, group projects can create a sense of community and enhance student learning.  

  • Make group learning mandatory so the students understand the value of both the process and the product of collaboration.3  
  • Group size should be small enough to allow for easy collaboration and full participation of all members. Groups should also have advance notice of group work activities and enough time to communicate with each other via class discussion prior to the group work.2,4
  • Create a group contract or charter that outlines the expectations, rights, and responsibilities for group members. This can be student created, or instructor created and the students can modify it to fit their group.2  
  • Along with a group contract, students should create a collaboration plan that outlines strategies for completing the project including; synchronous meetings face-to-face or via video tools such as Skype or Google Hangouts; the use of collaborative tools such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Wikis; and what the final product will look like.2
  • Consider how you will assess the group assignment.  Will all students in the group get a collaborative grade?  Will you ask group members for peer evaluations?  Provide groups with a rubric when giving the assignment, or otherwise communicate how you will be assessing them.5