Iterating Alone over a Method and Tool to Facilitate Equitable Assessment of Group Work

Micah Gideon Modell


As an instructor employing group projects, my students and I have been frustrated by my inability to allocate credit for individuals’ contributions to a group’s projects. This design case details my efforts to design a method of equitably grading group work and addressing student concerns with respect to distribution of effort and, in tandem, to develop a tool that implements a substantial portion of that method. The method asks students involved in group projects to report the contributions of group members, including themselves, on a weekly basis. The web-based tool reminds students via email to enter numbers or use sliders to represent effort. Reported values are interdependent, meaning a low contribution from one member must be balanced by high contributions from others.

As the sole designer and developer on this project, I found little distinction between design and development activities. The design of the method evolved rapidly as it met with the reality of the tool being developed to support it. While the tool was initially considered for summative assessment purposes, the result focuses on formative assessment capabilities. Conflicting goals resulted in a functional prototype that would serve me for testing acceptance of the method and usefulness of the data, but the tool itself would not evolve further. This prototype uncovered avenues for research and the second iteration begins my exploration of some of these questions while addressing weaknesses. The decisions in the next iteration will focus on implementation of the method and related research resulting in a product that is easier to work with.


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