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Today’s blog post is intended to help you design a group project that your students will not only learn a lot from, but also one that students actually enjoy. If you’ve assigned one before, I’m sure you are familiar with the frustration many students feel when completing a good project. I believe this assignment type is essential, though, so I’m not willing to give up using it in my courses. If you’re looking for ready-made group project examples, I already have a post on my literary analysis project and one on my multimodal genre remediation project. The first assignment is the one I mention throughout the video included in today’s post. If you’re unsure about how to grade a group project that involves different elements, you can also watch my video on using weighted unit grading. But, let’s turn our focus onto assignment design.

Designing a College Group Project

Can students actually enjoy a group project?

My emphatic answer is “Yes!”

The video above goes over the following five tips in detail, using an example group project that my students almost always point out as being their favorite major assignment. [Find out how to design your own course assessment, so you can learn how your students feel about your course design and materials.] If you want the quick version of these tips, though, see the list below.

Group Project Design Tips:

  1. Let students pick their group members
    • I have students do this in class so they can spend some time talking to one another and figuring out who has similar interests and schedule openings.
  2. Keep group sizes as small as possible
    • I do groups of 3 for my 30 student classes. I would advise keeping it to 5 or less if at all possible.
  3. Make the assignment requirements as flexible as possible
    • I find this empowers students, as it show them that you are open to (a) seeing what they’re interested in focusing on and (b) giving them the space to get creative when meeting the assignment learning outcomes.
  4. Stagger the assignment deadlines throughout the semester
    • You never know what scheduling conflicts might prevent students from being able to give their full effort. Plus, staggered deadlines means staggered grading.
  5. KEY TIP: Design the project to include a large portion that is graded based on individual work, rather than group work
    • This is the essential element to my group project design for two reasons:
      • It shows students that their personal efforts will be taken into account during assessment/grading, so they don’t have to completely depend on their group members when it comes to their project grade.
      • It shows students that they can’t just depend on their group mates to do all the work for them, since a large portion of the grade is solely based off their individual efforts.

If you want more advice on designing a major course assignment, check out this video and it’s companion for six assignment design tips.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been on the fence about including a group project in your courses, I highly recommend integrating these tips into your next project design. Collaboration is so essential is today’s world, and that’s not decreasing as the years pass. But just saying that learning how to work as a team is important won’t help students feel comfortable or excited. So, it’s up to us to do our part in designing a project that students can actually enjoy.

FYI: If the group project involves creating graphics or multimodal materials, make sure to tell your students about Canva. It’s a free tool with tons of graphic templates and flexibility. Here’s a video tutorial on how to use the tool for teaching purposes.

Comment Below: What group project design tips do you have to share with us?

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Unsure how to design a group project that students will actually enjoy and find value in? Try out these design elements that have worked so well for my students! #teaching #highered