Getting students to buy into group member evaluation

This is the 15th post in a series titled ‘All Things Group Work’. The home page is here.

Now that students have understood the purpose of group work, as discussed in the last post, their capacity to see the logic and benefit of using group member evaluation (GME) will be stronger. However, it is still worth making the advantages explicit, and this can be done in tutorials, as part of a lecture, or added as a resource in the LMS.

Most of what you would be explaining to students to get their buy-in to GME would stem from a previous post, Why use group member evaluation. The notions of equity will certainly appeal to those students who have had negative experiences with group work previously, but the opportunity to enhance self-regulatory behaviours that are demanded in the workplace should also encourage attention.

Whilst Zimmerman and Moylan (2009) propose that increasing student metacognition related to certain tasks leads to enhanced self-regulation, Chapman and Van Auken (2001) exhort the need for coordinators to not set and forget a group task: ‘Specifically, instructors who convey the value of group work, provide insight into group dynamics, and make attempts to limit the negative aspects of group projects may positively affect students’ attitudes toward group work.’

Resources for course coordinators for group member evaluations

Of vital importance is that you have taught students how to write constructive feedback, which I offer advice on here. It is then necessary to add information to the assessment task itself, reminding students again of why they are using GME.

Here is some pre-written text that you can use to introduce the task in a learning management system (LMS) and then in the instructions inside the task itself. You may wish to also include a discussion about the rubric in the introduction, and you can find advice on that here.

LMS intro

The purpose of this group evaluation task is to strengthen the skills that are necessary to work as a team. Receiving quality feedback on how you have performed in the team task will help you to refine or consolidate your approach to working with others. You may receive feedback on certain behaviours that you did not know you exhibited, and that peers may not be comfortable enough to say to you during group work. This feedback could be very valuable to you.

Because of this, it is important that you look closely at the criteria and accurately provide feedback to those in your group. Ask for guidance if you are unsure about what the criteria are asking so you are then able to provide accurate information to your peers. Adding a comment to explain your choices is also valuable if it is constructive feedback and has ‘improvement’ as its intention.

There is also an opportunity to self-reflect on your performance in the group. Comparing this to what your peers say is a useful learning opportunity.

Another advantage of this assignment is that it promotes equal participation in the group task. Your final grade will be adjusted if the evidence suggests that you have not contributed to the group work as equally as others.

Based on all of these factors, you can see that peer evaluation is an excellent learning opportunity.

Group member evaluation instructions

You will be given 3/4/5 criteria from which to evaluate each of your group members’ performance in the activity, as well as your own. Take time to decide on the score you provide, and provide a comment if you think there was a reason for your decision that needs explaining.

Then, view how others have rated your performance. Evaluate whether their assessment of you is fair and if there is anything that you can learn from to help you become a stronger and more efficient team member in your next group task. You should seek clarification if you are unsure about how or why a comment or score has been given to you, but it is very important that if you do this, you do so in a constructive way. That is, you approach the communication with the person with an open mind and in a polite and objective fashion.

In the next post, I discuss the selection of groups, and why leaving it to chance probably won’t end well.


Chapman, K. J., & van Auken, S. (2001). Creating Positive Group Project Experiences: An Examination of the Role of the Instructor on Students’ Perceptions of Group Projects. Journal of Marketing Education, 23(2), 117–127.

I’m Paul Moss. I’m a learning designer at the University of Adelaide. Follow me on Twitter @edmerger or on LinkedIn

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