Teaching as an adjunct can be a lot of fun. It is also challenging. As I have encountered a number of situations, I realize such a blog can be helpful, both to me and to others.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Group Projects

I am currently debating how I should handle group projects in the future. Up until now I have simply given everyone in the group the same grade. After all, it is group work and even if someone is not carrying his/her weight, the group presents as a group and should be graded that way.

This semester, however, I had a group that, before it presented, let me know that a couple of members did not deserve full credit. It does point out that it is not fair for classmates to rely on other people in the group to get them through and get them a good grade. As a result, I have been thinking about my options.

The first thing I can do is leave everything alone and simply give a group grade. The second possibility is to give everyone an individual grade. I could combine the two methods and give people a group grade and an individual grade. The last option I can think of is something one of my graduate professors did. He allowed the group to decide, majority rule, what percent of the final grade each member was entitled to and that had to be submitted in writing. So, for instance, you could indicate that all five members deserved 100% of the grade, or you could decide that one of the members only deserved 80% of the grade because s/he only did 80% of the work compared to 100% put in by everyone else.

To give an individual grade (with or without a group grade) not only gives me more work (which I can handle), it also calls on me to make a judgement as to how much each person put in outside of the class. To allow the students to determine what percentage of the grade group members should get does allow for individuals to take out frustrations on others. For instance, when one group was formed, two of the members were going out with each other. They broke up shortly afterwards and four of the remaining six members were close friends with the female. This would allow those five to form a block and penalize the male who broke up with the female. I am not saying this would happen, but it could.

As a result, I am debating right now if I want to make any changes for next semester. I’ll let you know.