grading groups

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by apple_pi, Dec 12, 2008.

  1. apple_pi

    apple_pi New Member

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    Dec 12, 2008

    Anyone out there ever have any complaints about grading group work? "Johnny got a lower score than he thinks he could have earned by himself, and it's not fair that Susie brought him down." I give my math students quizzes in small groups sometimes. They know that I will shuffle the papers, staple, and grade the one on top. I always remind them, "Think out loud. Help each other. Check your group members papers and make sure they are writing things down correctly. Don't hand them in until you've checked everyone's paper." Well, my principal seems to agree with the student that he should be able to get his own score. (The student lost a point on a quiz because the person whose paper was graded didn't have everything.) I disagree with the principal, because part of what I'm measuring with group quizzes is their participation. If a student is strong, he needs to help the others. If a student is weak, he needs to ask for help. They need to get the work done as a group, and they have free access to see each others' papers. I circulate around the room, listening, and I love hearing my students talk out the math with each other. I think it's very effective. Another important detail - the group quiz category is 15% of the grade. The principal says he doesn't care if it's 1%, he'd still have the same opinion.

    I feel that if I don't shuffle the papers, but allow them to choose, the group members will just rely on the strongest kid and there will be no pressure on them to make sure they have the correct work. They might fill out some of it incorrectly, but since the other kid's paper is the one that will be graded, why bother to erase and re-write it? Why bother to even pay any attention to what the strongest kid is doing? If they are shuffled, then each person wants to make sure their paper is the best it can be.

    So, what do you think? I know that other math teachers are doing the same thing in my school, and I find it very hard to believe that other teachers in other subjects are not giving group grades. Doesn't participation count for something? Isn't learning to work as a team important? Must our grades ONLY reflect the student's individual mastery with the subject matter? Any teacher who expects a student to follow directions knows you need to keep them accountable to that through the grade. If a term paper is to be typed, and it is handwritten, that really has nothing to do with mastery of the English language, but isn't the teacher allowed to make "following directions" part of the grade? Why can't participation be considered part of the grade?

    If anyone has ever had a similar problem with an administrator taking a stance against group grading, please reply. Thanks!

    Addition to this original post: If you're interested, please see my other two posts in this thread. Thanks to all who have replied and please keep the replies coming - any and all opinions are helpful for me to read.
     
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  3. Sheba

    Sheba Companion

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    Dec 12, 2008

    Professor Peter Edwards at Keimyung University in Daegu, Korea, has developed a brilliant method of group evaluation based on peer, teacher, class, and self-evaluation called Jazz Assessment. To quote him:

    'His particular approach stems from frustrations (experienced by teachers and students alike) over students' common complaints of unfairness (i.e. "face validity") in the grading of team projects, and educational institutions' commonly poor preparation of students in teamwork skills so vital to their future careers. In his unique approach, Prof. Edwards proposes that the principles of jazz music and its appreciation can effectively demonstrate the balance of individual and ensemble efforts needed to achieve chaotic, collaborative, and improvised success.'

    I was at a presentation where he welcomed anyone who was interested to email him for his assessment sheets and explanations at profedwards@hotmail.com . I'm sure his approach, as he explained it, would work very well for group work in most secondary school classes. I believe his book will be coming out next year but it's easy to get the gist of what he's saying from a brief overview of his assessment worksheets.
     
  4. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Dec 12, 2008

    Working with a group is something that students need to get used to in the real world you always have to work with other people and live with their mistakes. I do however give a group and individual score on the rubric for the assignment.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Dec 13, 2008

    Hi and welcome!!

    Sorry, but I'm afraid I agree with the principal.

    In math, at least, some kids THINK they understand it, right up until the time they get the corrected test/quiz back. So if two kids each think they're right on #2, each should put the answer he believes in. One shouldn't be penalized because he couldn't convince his classmate that he was right.

    I say each kid should get a grade based on the answers on his or her own paper.

    My job as teacher is to help ensure that each of my kids understands how to do the problems he faces. Their ability, or lack thereof, to convince their friends of the right answer shouldn't come into the mix. That's my job.

    I say you let the kids work together, but ultimately each kid puts down his or her answers. They still get the benefits of the group work you discussed, but each is ultimately responsible for his or her own learning.
     
  6. wig

    wig Devotee

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    Dec 13, 2008

    I agree with Alice.

    There are many benefits to group work, but each person needs to be responsible for their own learning. I ran across this problem in Social Studies all the time. It took me awhile to come up with a fair grading system, but I now have one no one complains about. They each have their own contribution to the group project. Others in the group may help and give advice to make it better, but the ultimate responsibility for that part of the project is theirs. A short written assessment is given on their entire project, and everyone (including me) completes a participation evaluation on each other which is averaged into a grade. In the end they are all averaged together with the assessment worth 50%, individual contribution 35% and participation 15%.

    Now I realize yours is for an assignment as opposed to a big project, but have you thought about just giving a quiz at the end of the lesson and let THAT be the grade as opposed to the problems they worked on together?
     
  7. apple_pi

    apple_pi New Member

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    Thanks for the reply. What you're talking about where one person has one way and the other person has another way - that happens at the college-bound track. I allow for disagreement - the students tell me, circle the problem number, and I can grade that question separately. All of the others who don’t declare disagreement are of course not sure of everything, and a deferential person may be persuaded incorrectly by a dominant personality, and then feel regretful about it after seeing the graded paper. But the fact is, that deferential person was unsure and willing to go with the other answer, or they had a way out that they did not use.

    In the track in which I'm referring to, a few of these students may go to college, but most will not complete 4-year degrees. These students are in a collaborative learning curriculum. The set-up for learning is in the context of small groups. Since they are not academically minded students, it can certainly be difficult to get them to function well in that model. It was recommended to us to make part of their grade a measure of their participation in a group. We've tried subjective measures, but no one likes that. Of course, the majority of their grade is based on individual quizzes/tests and homework.

    If I assign "class work" (which as opposed to "quiz," is just graded for completion, not accuracy) many of these students are not inclined to stay focused or complete the task within a reasonable time. Yes, of course I can manage my classroom and control those off-task behaviors, but the quality of their effort is far less unless there's pressure on them. I would not grade individual papers more than I already do – like I said, they have individual quizzes and tests like any math class. With group quizzing, I could grade 4-5 papers per class, so it gives me a chance to hold them accountable more frequently. Group quizzing gives them a chance to get mistakes cleared up before the individual quiz. It has been very, very helpful and effective at making them better prepared for their individual quiz – I wish I had statistics.

    Students are not responsible for getting their group members to participate. I do that. If a student is not being helpful to the process, I remove that student from the group quiz to take it individually. That happens infrequently, but so far, twice this year.

    I agree that students shouldn’t be responsible for convincing their group members, but they should be responsible for communicating. (Rarely, there may be a person that should not be held accountable for communication – of course there might be exceptions.) If they want to try to convince their group members, that would be great, and they can try – it’s healthy debate and that’s what I want – I want them to be using their critical thinking skills. Many of these students need interaction with each other in order to make progress.

    So, back to the issue of disagreements. I haven’t advertised the ability to disagree in this particular course, because it just doesn’t seem to happen like it does with more able students. However, if in the future, I make it clear to them that they are allowed to disagree and it’s clear that when they hand in their papers that they are at that point forfeiting their right to disagree with anyone else’s answers, then I see that process as being fair. For the majority of the problems I give them, they communicate and agree on something. It may not be correct, and they may have a hunch it’s not correct, but together they are offering the best they can. The vast majority of students who get the paper back and see whatever mistakes were made, accept the grade without complaint. They may complain if there was a copy error on the graded copy (someone writes 58 instead of 68). The point-value will be small in comparison to the whole quiz. Sure, they’ll complain to the kid who made the mistake, but I remind them that it was everyone’s responsibility to check everyone’s work.

    Well, obviously I’m still not convinced it’s not a good process. Though I won’t be surprised if I’m not allowed to go forward with it.
     
  8. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

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    Dec 13, 2008

    I like your idea for group work. It makes it important for each member to be responsible for the work and to be certain their work is done correctly.I have done this in math where I will then randomly call on a group member to explain the problem. Thus each student is responsible for learning the work. I have also done this with questions in other areas.
    I am sure you also give individual examinations and this is where they can earn their own grade.
     
  9. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    Dec 13, 2008

    Welcome!! Love the name!

    If you do this over an over again for group work and they still complain because someone had it wrong and no one corrected it, then how is that effective? They aren't learning from their mistakes.

    The other thing is the grade is just by chance. I mean you shuffle and pick the one on the top? As the parent of the smartest student, that would sort of tick me off that the child was graded that way. I understand they need to work together and communication is a big part BUT you are relying on the smartest one to also be a great communicator...in math. I don't know if that is right.

    I'm a parent so that is my parent view, I'm also a first grade teacher so I don't know if my comments even have merit. Interesting topic though!
     
  10. apple_pi

    apple_pi New Member

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    Dec 13, 2008

    Thanks for your parent view. The idea is that the papers should match - groups successfully accomplish that all the time. The kids have free access to each others' papers - they are free to show each other the steps they have written down on their own paper - I encourage it. Of course I'm also encouraging them to verbally explain it, and usually that is what is happening. It generates discussion and the weak kids are truly attempting to understand and follow along because they know this is practice for their individual quiz.

    They do learn from their mistakes - if someone misses a mistake on a group member's paper, he's much more likely to check more carefully next time.

    Employers are constantly rating "the ability to work with others in a team" as a top priority in job candidates. Part of working together is learning to advocate for your position, and another part is monitoring the progress of another, and tactfully correcting them if necessary. If the strong member is having trouble with that - if another student is not listening and is being careless, then I agree that the strong student should have an "out." He'll have to write a note at the top of his paper that he wants question #3 (for example) to be graded separately from so-and-so's answer.
     
  11. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    Dec 13, 2008

    I LOVE this way of grading as one type of assessment. I don't think that it works as the only assessment. Having said that I am stealing it for grammar work. I think some of my language learners might pick up stuff from their classmates that they don't always get from me.
     
  12. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 13, 2008

    There's a difference between 'group work' and 'cooperative learning'... In true cooperative learning there is
    * Positive interdependence (sink or swim together) in that each group member's efforts are required and indispensable for group success,
    *Face-to-Face Interaction -Orally explaining how to solve problems, checking for understanding,
    * Individual & group accountability,You need to build this part in...perhaps individual grade's for each person's part, group grade for how well they worked together...
    *Interpersonal & Small-Group Skills,
    *Group Processing-Group members discuss how well they are achieving their goals and maintaining effective working relationships Doesn't seem as if you have this either
     

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