Assessing Collaborative Efforts
Grading cooperative collaboration in a learning community is a difficult process and one that is not perfect. It can be difficult to determine where the line is when valuing student interactions with the quality of their responses. What is more beneficial to a learning community? A student who participates selectively, but contributes a significant amount when doing so or the student who participates often but provides very little in diversity of thinking or quality of product?
I agreed with Siemens in his video that there needs to be a mix of individual and collaborative work. I am often the student who is hesitant to participate in group work for two reasons. The first is I hate the feeling of being uncertain of the quality of my work. It’s one thing if I submit work that I am unsure of but the grade will only affect me. It’s another thing entirely when the inadequate grade will bring down a classmate’s score.
The second reason is the feeling of being on the other side of that situation. I have often been let down by group members. I once did a Civil War history report where my partner confused Confederate soldiers and misunderstood them to be Union soldiers. During our oral presentation, we lost a significant amount of points when she stated that the Confederate Army won the Civil War. In this situation, I remember wishing that we were receiving separate grades for our work.
If a student is requesting to complete a project independently, rather than as a member of the group, I think the collaborative group needs to step up. It can be difficult to trust the partners in your group, as they can be strangers you have never met or worked with before. It can be helpful if the instructor could determine if there is a classmate in the group the student has worked successfully with previously and make sure they are placed together.
As Siemens discusses in his video, collaboration is often necessary to achieve large tasks. While the student doesn’t wish to work within a group setting, it must be required as it is an essential skill for students to master.
Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Principles of distance education: Assessment of collaborative learning. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Principles of distance education: Learning communities. Baltimore, MD: Author.
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