Unequal contributions to group projects?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by curiouslystrong, Feb 8, 2018.

  1. curiouslystrong

    curiouslystrong Companion

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2012
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 8, 2018

    I haven't really had a problem handing this issue in the past, and I've definitely dealt with student complaints about other group members not pulling their weight, etc. and generally been able to resolve any questions of who deserves what grade reasonably and fairly. Not sure what the best way to approach this situation is, though.

    Students did a project in Google Slides. They actually could choose whatever format they wanted to do the assignment, and also had the choice of whether to work individually or with a group. They chose to work in a group of three (I'll call them V, K, and N); they're also all good friends and are all capable of doing the work that was assigned. They submitted an incomplete project. What they had done was decent to excellent quality work, but because of the parts that were missing, the project grade ended up being an F.

    Because they collaborated on the project in Google Slides, I was able to look back at the version history and identify which group member did each slide. V did one slide. N did one slide. K did two slides, one of which was much more in-depth than the rest of the slides, and both of which were the best slides in the whole presentation.

    I emailed the students to let them know that I was giving them all the same grade for now, but that I was able to see who did which slide, and that I would consider adjusting the grades on this basis after discussing the project with them on Monday (we're off tomorrow). I also told them that if they wanted to complete the project over the weekend, I would be happy to regrade their work.

    K emailed me back to say that she would finish the project, since the other group members were busy this weekend. Which is fine, except K already did most of the work, and I really don't think that K wants her friends to get a different grade than her on the project. So while I'd like to base their grades at least somewhat on their level of contribution, I also don't want to create any sort of resentment within their social group, especially since K pretty clearly doesn't want the other group members to fail while she passes. How do I approach this in a way that's fair, but that also doesn't put K in a bad/awkward position?

    tl;dr: One student did most of the work in a group project, but I'm worried that giving her a higher grade than the other group members, who are her friends, will cause her to face negative social consequences. The student in question has also indicated that she does not want her friends to receive a lower grade than her. What's the best/fairest way to handle this situation?
     
  2.  
  3. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Cohort

    Joined:
    May 14, 2012
    Messages:
    520
    Likes Received:
    129

    Feb 8, 2018

    Could you email them their grades privately? K does not need to share if she doesn't want to.
     
  4. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Cohort

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2017
    Messages:
    648
    Likes Received:
    394

    Feb 8, 2018

    I think that unless you spelled out different criteria from the beginning, they all get the same grade. Next time, maybe make it clear from the beginning that the group final effort will be 50% and the individual contributions will be the other 50% so that you can adjust accordingly. I've never liked the idea some teachers use of having people grade their group members, but each member should note what they uniquely contributed.
     
    Peregrin5 likes this.
  5. Tulipteacher

    Tulipteacher Rookie

    Joined:
    May 7, 2016
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    57

    Feb 8, 2018

    Grade it according to the rubric or guidelines you gave out when you assigned the project. If it was based on a combined score then stick to that. If it was based on individual contributions, stick to that.
     
  6. curiouslystrong

    curiouslystrong Companion

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2012
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 8, 2018

    Thanks for the responses!

    I can send them grades separately, but the student culture is to share all grades on every assignment constantly, so it would either not stay private or it would be very suspicious if she tried to keep it private.

    When I introduced the assignment, I made it clear that because they had a choice of whether to work in a group or individually, I would not be mediating any group disputes. Because the assignment could also be done individually, the guidelines were just about the project requirements, and not about equal/balanced group member contributions.

    I will probably end up giving them all the same grade, though I'm still a little worried that it's not entirely fair.
     
  7. rpan

    rpan Comrade

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2017
    Messages:
    384
    Likes Received:
    303

    Feb 9, 2018

    I have given students who work together different grades but I made the expectation very clear that if one person contributes more or shows more higher level thinking according to the rubric then that person gets a better grade. The person who doesn’t pull their weight gets a lower grade. This is made explicit.

    If there are 3 in a group then each person is represented by a colour of highlighter. They each highlight the part of the rubric that they worked on using their assigned colour so it’s visible to both me and the group members if the work is equitable, who has done the higher order stuff etc. If it’s equitable then each persons colour should highlight about one third of the rubric. If they dispute the grade then I bring them back to the rubric which they highlighted and that’s my justification of the grades I have given.
     
  8. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Messages:
    13,303
    Likes Received:
    1,198

    Feb 9, 2018

    I like the highlighter idea!
    I don't hesitate to give group members different marks on an assignment; those who do nothing shouldn't benefit from those who do all of the work. I make this very clear at the outset. When students work in groups, I often assign different parts of the assignment to each member. That way, if something doesn't get done, it's clear who didn't do their share. I also may change the requirements slightly if students choose to work together--for example, they may work together, but the amount they must produce is doubled.
     
    Peregrin5 likes this.
  9. Kindergally

    Kindergally Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2017
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    8

    Feb 9, 2018

    I took a few different classes on Group Dynamics for my Masters in Admin. There is always going to be someone who does most of the work and someone who sits back. I always hated group projects as a student for this exact reason. Unfortunately, even working with my coworkers, I still see people who do all the work and others find the easy jobs to take.
     
  10. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Messages:
    13,303
    Likes Received:
    1,198

    Feb 9, 2018

    To add on to my previous post...

    Earlier this year, my students worked in groups on a History inquiry project. In one of the groups, one member did 90% of the work. Not only did she do her own portion, she helped her fellow group members find the information they needed, helped them to summarize it, and revised and edited their finished work. During the group presentation, she cued them, and helped them to read their "prepared" sections. There is absolutely no way that they all deserved the same mark. Three people in the group of four learned nothing; their marks reflected their learning.
     
  11. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Companion

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2016
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    108

    Feb 9, 2018

    In the future, maybe have a list of tasks to be distributed between members or define expected contributions. Having that sort of set-up allows for easier discretion in balancing grades based on contribution. Back in high school, we had a multi-week project in honors bio with assigned groups. We had defined tasks to delegate, so when my group members failed to adequately complete their tasks, I still got a grade based on the work I completed.
     

Share This Page

test