kitchen table math, the sequel: Students Give Group Assignments a Failing Grade

Monday, June 8, 2009

Students Give Group Assignments a Failing Grade

From today's Chronicle of Higher Education:


At a conference on teaching at colleges on Saturday,
three undergraduates made a plea: No more group
assignments -- not unless they will be graded fairly. . ."

The conference in question is the sixth annual Teaching Professor conference, an event sponsored by Magna Publications, a Wisconsin publisher of higher-education newsletters.

Of course the problem is (right, everyone?) that those darn ol' instructors just don't know how to design group projects well.

The article cites a 2004 paper in the Journal of Student Centered Learning entitled “Turning Student Groups Into Effective Teams,” suggesting that students rate the “team citizenship” of each member of their group, and that those ratings in turn be used to help determine each student’s individual grade.

Yeah right. Now that sure sounds like an improvement, doesn't it?


Catherine Johnson said...

Rating team citizenship.

Good Lord.

Catherine Johnson said...

"A different complaint came from Patricio J. Chile, who graduated last month from American University with majors in political science and journalism. Group writing assignments, Mr. Chile said, tend to result in products that are less than the sum of their parts. He described a “Frankenstein effect” in which various sections of a group paper are awkwardly stitched together."

Catherine Johnson said...

We need to start shutting down ed schools.

Right this minute.

Ben Calvin said...

Amen. So are there any Ed schools out there that teach DI? Core Knowledge? Any movement within the Academy to bring in these wild ideas into the Ed school mainstream?

Or do we need to go back to Teacher's Colleges and normal schools and "de-professionalize" teaching? Teach it as a trade not a profession?

Ben Calvin said...

Rating team citizenship sounds like another way to waste time that should be used for instruction.

Anonymous said...

My school had normal school graduates as teachers in grades 1,3 and 4 and a second-grade teacher who had 1-2 years of college. They were all good teachers - lots of phonics, spelling, writing, penmanship, geography, history and real math. Each one of them chose a particular area of science interest, and we had a well-rounded science program over the 4 years.

I'd say that the biggest difference from today is that there was a strong emphasis on MASTERING the fundamentals. There was also solid discipline; there were real and immediate consequences for disruptive behavior.

BTW, I have family members who attended Catholic elementary schools where only the principal had a college degree; all of the other nuns had just the training their order provided. They, too, were very good at fundamentals and discipline.

VickyS said...

Group writing makes me cringe (the Frankenstein effect) but I have seen one type of assignment that seems to work: when the kids put together a magazine or newspaper. The artistic kid does the comics or the ads, the kid who likes to research does the main article, the opinionated one does the opinions or letters, etc.

And since each kid is responsible for discrete sections, it's easy to assess the individual contributions.

Unknown said...

See here.

Crimson Wife said...

I can remember the frustration I felt during a group project in college trying to get my fellow group members to understand why it was impossible for something to be "uniformly two-tier". Finally, they did agree to delete the improper modifier but not before we had wasted WAY too much time on the issue and had created quite a bit of ill-will between myself and my teammates.