Groups, making groups work effectively, & Peer Evaluation
Final project group size will be 3-4 people. I will facilitate group formation in the first week of the course.
Universities and the work world are becoming more diverse. This is a great thing, as diversity is shown to increase performance. At the same time, team diversity can create challenges that need to be managed. (See 13 benefits and challenges of cultural diversity in the workplace for benefits and challenges of teams).
To benefit from team diversity, I encourage you to draw out people’s viewpoints: what might someone from a different country, of a different gender, or a different academic background think?
A big challenge in diverse groups is communication, as some members may
naturally be quieter, and people may have diverse first languages. As such, I encourage you to understand how
diversity may be related to people’s openness to sharing ideas, and to actively
work to make the environment comfortable for everyone, which may involve having
to explicitly ask for people’s opinions. In addition, the baseline lingua
franca for group work should
be English, as this is the only language that everyone is guaranteed to speak;
it can be quite exclusionary if three group members speak one language together
and marginalize the views of the fourth member. In saying this, the goal is
to ensure that all group members are naturally given the ability to contribute.
Whether or not a group works together effectively is not a random event. Instead, you have the utmost control over this. As such, I will allocate some class time to creating a group “contract,” that will include basic details about:
- Expectations, including desired final grade
- Foreseen challenges, and what will be done to manage them
- Rough timeline of when work will be done
A template will be
provided online. Additional considerations can be found at: Working effectively in groups
All group members are expected to contribute equally to group assignments. To help assess this, and to ensure group grades are allocated based on effort, a peer evaluation mechanism will be used. The mechanism is simple, and all group members have to agree to it.
You will be given 100 points for each member of the group. So, if you have four members, you get 400 points, and if you have 5 members, you get 500 points. As a group (that is together, and with everyone’s consent) you get to allocate the total number of points as you see fit.
Example #1, ideal teamwork: If everyone contributes equally, you all would get 100 points and would get the actual grade from your group work.
Example #2, the team star: If one person does more work than others, you might allocate 115 points to that person, and 95 to the other three group members.
Importantly, if there are any issues with group work, this should be openly discussed within the group as it is happening. My experience is that most group work issues can be solved by openly discussing expectations at the start of the project; you may even agree that some people will do more work than others and will get more “points” because of that. If things continue to get worse though, please contact me.
Submit the peer evaluation online after your project is submitted.
Having commitments outside of the course are not a valid excuse for doing less than your fair share of the project.
Overall discretion for the allocation of grades will be left to the instructor.