For all of the excellent reasons to include group projects in courses—including how they can better prepare students to collaborate in the workplace—instructors can find them challenging. A primary challenge can be ensuring that all members of a group fully and fairly contribute to project submissions. One technique to resolve that challenge is to have students provide feedback on the performance of the members of their group; knowing that their group project grade will be influenced by peer feedback can be enough to inspire students to stay engaged throughout the semester. Qualtrics can be a great tool for gathering that feedback (UF has a campus-wide account).
Want some other ideas? Students Riding on Coattails during Group Work? Five Simple Ideas to Try provides suggestions for how further tackle the challenges of group projects. These suggestions include designing group projects into phases with multiple deliverables, which allows instructors to track how effectively groups are functioning throughout the semester. The author also suggests allowing students to have input on the project’s topic or focus, which can increase and maintain their level of engagement. Instructors might also consider incorporating individual submissions that relate to the group project, such as critical reflection assignments. In addition, the author suggests providing the opportunity early in the semester for groups to get to know each other and establish the norms (including roles and responsibilities) that will guide their collaboration. Finally, instructors should find ways to empower students to solve inter-group challenges, while also expressing a willingness to intervene when necessary.