Group Projects

Group Projects offer a variety of learner benefits. The following video features Dr. Lynn Lease discussing these benefits along with a variety of best practices for designing and evaluating group projects.

The items below provides additional support for you and your students.

Sample Group Contract

Offering students the opportunity to commit to a group contact offers them the opportunity to consider their commitment to and contribution to the group. It also offers a safe starting point for conversation when one or more group members is not fulfilling their role or obligation to the group. A sample is offered below. Consider allowing the class to determine specific elements that should be included, which could potentially increase student commitment to upholding the contract.

Class Name __________________________ Project Title _______________________________

For the next [length of the project] weeks, I will participate as a contributing member of my group.

I am committed to contributing to the groups goals and learning and will do the following [give students the oppotunity to supply their own agreed-upon ground rules, such as the following examples]:

  • Attend all class meetings prepared for group work
  • Actively listen to what others have to contribute
  • Support the initiatives and efforts of my group members
  • Communicate outside of class through the channel determined by our group

If I do not follow through with this commitment, I give my group members permission to remind me of this contract and discuss ways that I can compensate to fulfill my obligation.

Signed ___________________________________ Date _____________________

Group Contract Sample adapted from Barkley, E. F. (2010). Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty. Jossey-Bass.

Sample Group-Work Evaluation Form

When using longer-term groups for course and/or term-long projects, it is important to build in touch-points allowing students to evaluate their group’s progress, their own individual contributions, and the contributions of their peers. This can help both you and students identify potential issues and employ strategies to overcomes those issues before they disable a group’s progress and/or success. Consider the sample questions below as a starting point for your own evaluation form.

  1. Overall, how effectively is your group working together on this project? [offer scale: 1-5]
  2. Of the group members, how many are participating and contributing actively most of the time.
  3. Give one specific example of something you have learned from the group that you likely would not have learned on your own?
  4. Give one specific example of something your group members have learned from you that they would not have learned on their own.
  5. Suggest one change the group could make to improve its performance.

Evaluation questions adapted from Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers (2nd ed.). Jossey-Bass.

Group Roles

Group work during class and outside of class provides benefits to learners. A common frustration, however, by many eager students is that they are left doing all the work. Defining and assigning roles to each member of the groups can help to delegate specific work functions and offer guidance for those students who need more direction on their involvement.

This list provides some potential roles to choose from depending on the assignment or project goal, group size, and desired outcomes. These roles can be assigned by you or selected by students. This list is not exhaustive. Consider allowing students to add to this list based on their experiences and learning goals.

  • Facilitator: Facilitate team discussion, keep the group on task, and distribute work.
  • Recorder: Take notes that summarize team discussions and decisions; keep all necessary records.
  • Reporter: Serve as spokesperson to the class or instructor, summarizing the group’s activities and/or conclusions.
  • Timekeeper: Review and report on the overall project deadlines and group progress and any potential issues; make sure meetings start and end on time
  • Counter Argument Advocate: Look for and present counter-arguments and objections maintaining a constructive (for the good of the team) purpose; encourage alternative explanations and solutions.
  • Harmonizer: Focus the team members on harmonious and positive communication; moderate debate within the team allowing expression in a positive manner.
  • Prioritizer: Identify and focus the group on the important issues and critical process/steps.
  • Explorer: Research and present potential in situations and outcomes; help the team explore new areas of inquiry.
  • Innovator: Promote creativity and imagination for new and alternative perspectives, ideas, and solutions.
  • Checker: Make sure all group members understand the concepts, process goals, and the group’s conclusions.
  • Runner: Gather materials; serve as the liaison between groups and within the group, and with the instructor.
  • Wildcard: Assume the role of any missing member and fill in wherever needed.

These roles are adapted from lists in:
Barkley, E.F., Cross, K.P., & Major, C.H. (2005). Collaborative learning techniques. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., and Smith, K. (1991). Cooperative learning: Increasing college faculty instructional productivity (ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 4). Washington, DC: The George Washington University, School of Education and Human Development.
Millis, B. J., and Cottell, P. G., Jr. (1998). Cooperative learning for higher education faculty. American Council on Education, Series on Higher Education. The Oryx Press, Phoenix, AZ.