Adapted from Carnegie Mellon University’s Eberly Center: Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Assessing teamwork is similar but more complicated than individual work.  Assessment may be of the final product (e.g., design, report, presentation) and/or the processes (e.g., ability to meet deadlines, contribute fairly, communicate effectively).  Translating team performance into individual grades can also be complicated with issues of fairness and equity.  This is due in part to the fact that individual contribution is not necessarily apparent in the final product.  Below are guidelines to consider.

Assess individual, as well as group, performance

Diligent students get frustrated if they feel others are not pulling their weight but getting the same grades.  One way to avoid that is to assess individual learning and performance as well as the team’s product.  Examples include adding individual components to team projects (essays, journals, annotated bibliographies, quizzes, etc.)  Weighting is another important consideration.  For a given project, perhaps 50% of the grade is a team grade and 50% is an individual grade.  There is no perfect breakdown.  It depends on your goals for student learning and what will motive them to work collaboratively.

Assess process as well as product

If teamwork skill is a learning objective, then assessing progress is important.  That is, for team projects we need to assess how students work as well as what they produce.

Process has a number of elements, including generating a range of ideas, listening respectfully to different perspectives, distributing work fairly, resolving conflicts, and communicating effectively.  Assessment may be done with:

  • team evaluations: each member evaluates dynamics of the team as a whole
  • peer evaluations: each member evaluates contributions if his/her teammates
  • self-evaluations: each member documents and evaluates his/her own contributions to the team
  • Sample Evaluations here

Assessments may be quantitative, qualitative or both.  They should be tailored to your purpose and context.  Timing is another important consideration.  It may be best to use them in the middle and again at the end to promote dialog, development and transparency.  You should also consider who should see them – just you or all team members?

Make assessment criteria and grading scheme clear

Students may be unaccustomed to having team skills assessed, so it is particularly important to articulate performance criteria at the start, to post it where it is easily found, and to refer back to it throughout the project.  If time allows, consider involving students in determining performance criteria for process and product.  A sample rubric that evaluates both product and process is here