Using group work in courses can greatly benefit learners. Learners can continue to hone project management and critical thinking skills. Through group work, learners can deepen their understanding of course concepts. Research has shown that positive group work experiences lead to greater learner retention and success.
Group work can take many forms, from collaborative learning during synchronous web conference sessions to formal course assignments.
When designing a group work activity, consider the guidelines and best practices as outlined in the resources below.
- Berkeley Graduate Student Instructor Group Work: Design Guidelines
- UW-Madison Center for Teaching, Learning and Mentoring: Group Work
- UW-Madison Center for Teaching, Learning and Mentoring: Group Work Planning Sheet
- Carnegie Mellon University Eberly Center: Best Practices for Designing Group Work
- Cornell University Center for Teaching Innovation: Examples of Collaborative Learning or Group Work Activities
Assessing group work is similar to assessing individual work. However there are some differences. Not only is the assignment assessed, but also how the group worked together is also assessed. Grading equity between group members may need to be addressed. The resources below provide guidelines and suggested best practices when assessing group work.
Instructors not only need to design and assess groupwork, but also, they need to support learners as learners complete the required learning activities. These resources provide guidance to instructors on how to facilitate groupwork.
- UW-Madison Center for Teaching, Learning and Mentoring: Developing Students’ Group Work Skills
- UW-Madison Center for Teaching, Learning and Mentoring: Team Expectation Agreements
- Online Learning Insights: Five Essential Skills Instructors Need to Facilitate Online Group Work and Collaboration
- Washington University in St. Louis Teaching Resources: Facilitating In-Class Group Work
Canvas and Zoom have built-in tools that can enable group work. Within the Canvas course site, groups can be created either manually or automatically. Groups can be integrated into assignments, including discussion postings. Zoom breakout rooms can be used during synchronous web conference times. These resources describe how to conduct group work within our online environment.
- Canvas Basics Guide: What are Groups
- Canvas Instructor Guide: How Do I Create a Group Discussion in a Course
- Canvas Instructor Guide: How Do I Assign an Assignment to a Course Group?
- Canvas Basics Guide: What are Collaborations
- Zoom: Enabling Breakout Rooms
- UW-Madison Center for Teaching, Learning and Mentoring: Using Zoom Breakout Rooms