A New Way of Grading Group Projects

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Catherine Cinque , Staff Writer

Students have often expressed a disdain for group project. There is uncertainty with partners and who will be doing the majority of the work, if not the entire thing.

But some professors are catching on to the issues that is the group project.

Dr. Matthew Schmidt in the University of New Haven’s National Security and Political Science department has crafted a new way to provide a fair and balanced group project for students. He brought this to the university after having developed something similar with the Advanced School of Military Studies.

“The real world works in groups and employers look for leadership. This helps to teach and take responsibility for their work because it gives students a chance to solve management problems,” said Schmidt.

Schmidt’s syllabus outlines his plans for a group project that will result in high quality work and fair grading. The syllabus explains that group projects “mimic real-world employment structures with a group leader and team members.”

He goes on to say that bosses don’t care who does the work as long as it gets done and makes them look good.

How it works is that members of a group will select a group leader who is then responsible for the project, the paper, the quality, and the deliverable. The leader is graded on the group’s deliverable.

Where Schmidt states, “A B- paper means the leader gets a B- grade.”

While this may sound unorthodox, it pushes the leader to make sure the work is up to the standards found in today’s professional world. Schmidt has found that students are scared at first but soon realize its importance to their education and come to appreciate his style.

The leader is able to hand in a potential grade for the group members which is decided on by their participation and activeness in the team. And it works the same in reverse. If the leader did not participate fully, the group members are then allowed to hand in a potential grade for the leader.

Schmidt makes it clear that assignments will be graded on their quality, not effort. He continues explaining in the syllabus, “Leaders take responsibility for the performances, not how hard the group worked. But they have the authority…to hold team members accountable for their individual performance.”

Schmidt states that when students hand in assignments he grades them in front of the class with the students name visible; he does this with humor and positivity.

“The professional world is not anonymous. Going through students work in front of the class is useful because students can see the mistakes that are being made by everyone and are then able to fix them,” he said.

Schmidt feels it allows them to see how he grades and what goes on in his own head and believes all of this results in a higher level performance and helps people help each other.