The Case against Group Grades

by Radhika Jaidev
Centre for English Language Communication
National University of Singapore

Project work is a common feature of course work in many disciplines at university level. Students may be required to work on a project and submit either a written paper or deliver an oral presentation or do both. These ‘end products’ may be part of the assessment requirement of a course or indeed constitute 100 percent of the assessment requirement of the course. Regardless of the weighting allocated, projects at university are often carried out in groups. Ehrman and Dörnyei (1998, p.72) characterize groups as “distinct unit(s)” of people whose interaction is determined by a common goal or purpose, the achievement of which requires them to stay together for a period of time.

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2 thoughts on “The Case against Group Grades

  1. The rationale for group work in projects is that group work encourages students to interact actively with their peers and in so doing, share information, engage in critical evaluation of that information and give valuable feedback on one another’s work. These are all valuable transferable skills applicable not only in any discipline at university but also at the workplace. With this added value in mind, if group work is carried out in the true spirit of “cooperative groups” with each member keeping an open and positive mindset, willing to share information as well as give and receive peer feedback in the right spirit, then “extraordinary achievement” could result from such work “than from isolated individuals competing with each other or working alone” (Johnson and Johnson, 2004, p.1). In reality, however, the dynamics of project groups at university are often complex not only because of the various demands on group members’ time but also because of the assessment system.

  2. The group does offer great advantages. I find however that this group is achieved as a natural factor in life, especially with ever increasing overpopulations. People tend to flock moreso than not. Or at least this is my assumption.

    The class is no longer Wise Man to young student. It is full of pupils and disciples. We cannot go back from this.

    In class, from my experience, we would all face the class as individuals, and rarely be formed into groups. When we were formed into groups, it would not last long.

    From all this I would say that yes, the group does offer certain fabulous benefits, however we should be careful, because the tendency of the nature is to cluster us all as one, and not allow the perhaps vital time for individual awareness and creative development.

    I would argue that one should be cautious in lending more value to the group than to the individual.

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