Teachers should grade group projects more fairly

October 26, 2016 — by Cassandra King

Senior shares opinion on teachers' grading policy for group projects. 

In the spirit of this year’s presidential election, seniors in Kirk Abe’s AP Government and Economics class are working together on an election simulation, creating videos to replicate CNN reports, preparing candidate speeches and holding mock fundraisers — spending a considerable amount of time outside of class to perfect their group projects.

The time-consuming and heavily group-oriented nature of this project and those like the election simulation are a challenge many students. On the other hand, the value of these projects is that they simulate work in the real world and help students in the long run by cultivating leadership and collaborative skills, which are essential for almost any career path.

Besides being time consuming, group projects lead to another frustration: classmates who are not participating or contributing to the group, and the fact that too often all members of a group receive the same grade regardless of contribution.

One particularly frustrating is example occurs when science teachers collect only one lab report out of a group. This is especially unfair because students may have only done the actual experiment together and not the report together. In general, it would be better for teachers to collect all the reports or even just give students enough time to check their reports with their peers.

In addition, teachers should allot enough time for students to get most of a project finished in class since it is often difficult for students to find times when they are all free and can meet.

In an ideal world, all teachers would give an individual grade for each student as well as an overall group grade. For example, each student can submit a written reflection to receive an individual grade while they also are graded as a group for their presentation.

In some classes, each student in a group gives individual grades and evaluations for each of their group partners based on how much effort each put in. This leads to all students being more motivated to do an equal amount of work since they know they will be assessed by their peers and they won’t be able to hide behind the efforts of more dedicated members.

This method fulfills the educational purposes of these projects and takes major strides in the direction of fair grading.