Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Grading Methods for Group Work

Instructor Assessment of Group Product

Assessment Option



Shared Group Grade

The group submits one product and all group members receive the same grade, regardless of individual contribution.

  • encourages group work - groups sink or swim together
  • decreases likelihood of plagiarism (more likely with individual products from group work)
  • relatively straightforward method
  • individual contributions are not necessarily reflected in the marks
  • stronger students may be unfairly disadvantaged by weaker ones and vice versa

Group Average Grade

Individual submissions (allocated tasks or individual reports) are scored individually. The group members each receive the averageof these individual scores.

  • may provide motivation for students to focus on both individual and group work and thereby develop in both areas
  • may be perceived as unfair by students
  • stronger students may be unfairly disadvantaged by weaker ones and vice versa

Individual Grade - Allocated task

Each student completes an allocated task that contributes to the final group product and gets the marks for that task

  • a relatively objective way of ensuring individual participation
  • may provide additional motivation to students
  • potential to reward outstanding performance
  • difficult to find tasks that are exactly equal in size/complexity
  • does not encourage the group process/collaboration
  • dependencies between tasks may slow progress of some

Individual Grade - Individual report

Each student writes and submits an individual report based on the group's work on the task/project

  • ensures individual effort
  • perceived as fair by students
  • precise manner in which individual reports should differ often very unclear to students
  • likelihood of unintentional plagiarism increased

Individual Grade - Examination

Exam questions specifically target the group projects, and can only be answered by students who have been thoroughly involved in the project

  • may increase motivation to learn from the group project including learning from the other members of the group
  • may diminish importance of group work
  • additional work for staff in designing exam questions
  • may not be effective, students may be able to answer the questions by reading the group reports

Student Assessment of Group Product

Assessment Option



Student distribution of pool of marks

Instructor awards a set number of scores and let the group decide how to distribute them.

Example: 4 member group

  • Product grade: 80/100.
  • 4 * 80 = 320 pts to be distributed.
  • No one student can be given less than zero or more than 100.
  • If members decide that they all contributed equally then each get 80
  • If they decided that person A deserved much more, then A might get 95, and the remaining if equal would get 75.
  • easy to implement
  • may motivate students to contribute more
  • negotiation skills become part of the learning process
  • potential to reward outstanding performance
  • may be perceived as fairer than shared or average group mark alone
  • open to subjective evaluation by friends
  • may lead to conflict
  • may foster competition and therefore be counterproductive to team work
  • students may not have the skills necessary for the required negotiation

Students allocate individual weightings

Instructor gives shared group grade & individual grade adjusted according to a peer assessment factor.


  • Group Grade = 80/100
  • The individual student's peer grade ranges from .5 – 1.5, with 1 for full
  • Grade = Group grade * peer
  • Below=80 *.75 =60
  • Above=80 * 1.2 = 96

As Above

As Above

Peer Evaluation - random marker, using criteria, moderated

Assessment items are anonymously completed by students who identify whether their peer has met the assessment criteria and awards a grade These grades are moderated by instructor and rating sheets returned to student.

  • helps clarify criteria for assessment
  • encourages sense of involvement and responsibility
  • assists students to develop skills in independent judgement
  • increases feedback to students
  • random allocation addresses potential friendship and other influences on assessment
  • provides experience to careers where peer judgement occurs
  • time may have to be invested in teaching students to evaluate each other
  • instructor moderation is time consuming
From Winchester-Seeto, T. (April, 2002). Assessment of collaborative work – collaboration versus assessment. Invited paper presented at the Annual Uniserve Science Symposium, The University of Sydney

CONTACT US to talk with an Eberly colleague in person!