Many tools are available when grading team assignments:
- Signature blocks indicate who contributed to the assignment
- Workload/Percent-effort tables allow grade adjustment and tracking of a team member's workload
- Peer assessments give students feedback and opportunities to improve performance before grading
- Peer evaluations provide peer ratings of each team member that may serve as a multiplier on the team grade or can determine the team grade
- Bonus points are given to other team members by each member
Combinations of these tools are possible and sometimes desirable. As a general rule instructors may use signature blocks on individual assignments to either give the same grade or a zero. Use other methods to adjust semester or project average for individual performance.
Assignment Cover Sheets
Faculty members may require that each assignment include cover sheets with either a signature block or a workload table. Both of these indicate the extent to which individual members of the team contributed to the assignment and can be used to determine appropriate individual grades from the team assignment.
Team members signing the signature block may receive the same grade, whereas those who do not (or are not allowed to) sign the cover sheet may receive no credit for the assignment. Here are some suggestions:
- Require a signature block on all team assignments. A signature means
I did my share of the work, and I have a general understanding of the contents of the assignment
- Students can decline to sign, or teams can refuse to let a member or members sign
- Students who do not sign the cover sheet receive a grade of zero on the assignment
A workload table allows some members of the team to receive a greater (or lesser) share of the credit for the assignment. Some faculty members ask students to list percent effort for each individual, some ask for percent credit, and some ask students to divide the points for the assignment in the workload table. Here are some options:
- Use student-assigned grades or percentages to adjust grades, including the option of a zero for exceptional individual effort. Typically, students are asked to fill in a table on the cover sheet, assigning percentages to each member of their team or distributing available points.
- Often instructors require additional documentation for exceptionally high- (or low-) workload assignments.
Announce the practices you will use early in the semester, practice them during the semester, and use them to reinforce the importance of individual responsibility to the team.
If you use peer evaluations to provide data for adjusting individual grades, consider using peer assessments so students can practice evaluating team members. Let team members submit ratings of all team members to the faculty member. Then, the faculty member can review the team ratings and provide each student with feedback that can help them improve ratings of their peers. Peer assessments allow the students to gain experience with giving and receiving feedback and give them an opportunity to improve performance before it counts against their grades.
- Assigning individual grades can be done by having students directly assign grades or by using student evaluations of performance to determine individual grades.
- Direct Assignment: The faculty member determines the overall team grade, but the team makes adjustments to the team grade to determine individual grades.
- Faculty Adjustment: Count peer evaluation as a multiplier on the team grade. Typically, each student on a team of four might receive between 70% and 110% of the team grade (depending on peer evaluation). Brown offers a quantitative algorithm.
Allow each student to assign a certain number of bonus points (usually 5) with the following restrictions:
- A student can give points to anyone (sometimes limited to members of his/her team but can be anyone in the class, i.e., the person who helped him/her the most)
- Students cannot keep any points for themselves
- Limit the maximum number of bonus points so that the effect on the overall score for each student is restricted.
Those interested in peer grading are referred to Michaelsen and Schultheiss, "Making Feedback Helpful," The Organizational Behavior Teaching Review, 1988, 13 (1):109113.
There have been recent legal challenges to peer grading:
However, early in 2002 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned this challenge, ruling unanimously for peer grading:
Calibrated Peer Review
Calibrated Peer Review (CPR") provides a creative solution to future court challenges. CPR" is a program for networked computers that enables peers to anonymously evaluate frequent writing assignments. A calibration cycle normalizes the grading and engages the students to spend more time reading about the topics (and the instructor less time assessing student writing):
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