Staff Editorial: Group-graded gloom in the classroom

Teachers should follow a standard grading rubric


Mya Stanberry

Sophomore Paige Descapentrie talks with classmate April 13. Group grading is not effective for students.

Group-graded assignments have become a part of the everyday grading system. Concerns regarding group-graded projects in the classroom are on the rise and the Echo Editorial Board believes that group-graded assignments are unfair and leave some members feeling clueless. 

Oftentimes, groups are assigned by teachers. In this case, there is a fair chance that some students may not be comfortable working with all members of their group. While teachers may believe assigning groups encourages teamwork and bonding, the Echo Editorial Board believes that randomly-assigned groups can be unfair.

It is important to be careful when assigning students to groups to avoid students taking over or group members leaving one person to complete the project alone.To elaborate, there is often inconsistency in equal group effort within group assignments which leads to confusion on classroom material and an unfair overall grade. This can occur for many reasons. A common issue that arises is one member pulling more weight in comparison to the rest of the group. While there is good that comes from students who feel obligated to pull more weight or take on a leadership role, it can feel one-sided to other members. This is problematic in the end, because it leaves fellow group members either not caring or wishing they could have contributed more to the project. It may turn into a personal project instead, and a group project is called a group project for a reason.

To help combat the issue of students taking over group assignments, the Echo Editorial Board believes teachers should set more adequate assignment expectations and check in with groups consistently. This will allow for teachers to catch onto the issue of students overly-assisting group assignments along with pointing out students who refuse to pull their weight.

Another common issue with group-graded assignments is the matter of student understanding. All students learn at a different pace and while group graded assignments are one way to show what some students know, it is not an accurate reflection of individual student knowledge. The Echo Editorial Board believes that a singular grade on group assignments can obscure teacher judgment of individual student learning. In an attempt to ensure student understanding, teachers should continue giving group assignments and consider grading the students as individuals. Teachers should additionally mention to students that while the assignment is a group effort, they are being graded as individuals. The Board believes that this could not only allow for both teachers and students to reflect on content intake and understanding, but also for students to be held accountable for their group efforts. With that being said, it may also give students an incentive to do their part.

In the future, the Echo Editorial Board hopes that educators at Park will take into consideration a few factors when grading group assignments. One aspect of group assignments that is beneficial is feedback sheets. The Board believes that these are one way to hold students accountable in group assignments. It allows students to be honest without worrying about personal relationships, because it is between the teacher and the student. Additionally, the Board hopes teachers consider group discussions to be a more common form of group assignment. Group discussions allow students to communicate and respond with open-ended thoughts. This can allow for a deeper understanding of topics and increase and maintain student focus. Group discussions are also a way for instructors to grasp an understanding of student comprehension. 

While group-graded assignments allow for new perspectives, accounting for those perspectives fairly is important. With a 14-1 vote, the Echo Editorial Board wants Park to implement a standardized group-graded-assignment rubric for teachers. This would allow for more consistent scoring accuracy in every classroom and eliminate some common fairness complaints surrounding group-graded assignments. A rubric for teachers could be beneficial for students as well, because it would allow for group-member accountability through consistent project requirements.