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Group Work Assignment


This is an assignment based on a group work task, where the product (i.e. project, report, artefact, video, podcast, multimedia presentation) and/or the process (i.e. contribution, participation, reflection on learning, online discussion) are graded for the individual and/or for the group.

What can it assess ?

Group work assignments involve students working together on a task. In the assessment of group work, the focus may on the process (i.e. teamwork, group cooperation and collaboration, effort and participation, peer feedback, and performance in individual roles) and/or on the product (i.e. the quality of the output such as a poster, presentation, design project, etc.).  Group work assignments may be assessed on the basis of individual and/or group performance.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • Students can learn from others and engage in peer learning 
  • Students can develop teamwork skills, including time management and leadership skills
  • Students can learn to effectively collaborate and communicate with others
  • Students can enhance their problem solving skills and cultural awareness
  • Group work can be adapted to work well in-person and mediated through technology.
  • Group work is often a very authentic means of assessment, where students will have the opportunity to experience situations they are likely to encounter in their future careers.


  • Conflict may occur between students and/or some students may feel excluded from the group
  • There is a risk that effort and contribution are not equal across group members with the effect that some students carry ‘free riders’ within the group
  • Can be time consuming for the lecturer/tutor to set-up and manage.

Design and Online Assessment Considerations


The design of group assignments involves careful planning and consideration. Consider the following key questions as part of the design process:

  • What are the key purposes of this approach, i.e. social learning, managing large classes, authentic learning experience and/or team working? Based on this, is the product or the process the main focus of the assignment?
  • Will there be a group mark, an individual mark, or both assigned to the task?
  • Who will assess the assignment, the lecturer, the students (peer/self), or both? 

Use a rubric, or similar, to help clarify your expectations and to support student feedback and/or opportunity for self/ peer review.  In order to design group assessment that mitigates against ‘free riders’, consider assigning individual marks for contribution and performance (which can be assigned in addition to or instead of a group mark). Consider asking students to complete a 'team/group contract' at the start of the module so students have a clear understanding of what's expected of them. 

If the final product of the group assignment is to be presented, clarify the purpose and format of this process. Consider the potential advantages of pre-recorded presentations, uploaded to the VLE, which could be incorporated into a face-to-face or virtual feedback session with staff and peers. Consider also the value of providing a rubric or criteria to guide peer feedback on group presentations.  

Group work assignments can take significant student time and effort, and this should be reflected in its weighting toward the module grade. Where possible, try to make the assignment authentic (meaningful) to the student as this should enhance student engagement and motivation. It’s also important to work out and communicate a procedure for dealing with group conflict and/or social exclusion as it arises. 

Educate students on academic integrity, including what is meant by plagiarism. Make them aware of the UCD resources on these, such as  UCD Plagiarism Policy-Student Guide, FAQ for Students on PlagiarismUCD Library guide on Academic Integrity.

Online Assessment

In the case where the product of the group work has a digital component, such as a multimedia presentation, give students guidance on presentation length and the maximum file size for submission. Online Discussion Forums in Brightspace, if used, can be set up for grading. Brightspace assists in setting up students into different size groups. The ‘Group Work’ tool in Peerscholar, available to UCD staff, supports students to work together to create, assess and reflect on a group activity. Peer Scholar also includes ‘Group Member Evaluation’, which allows students to give feedback or grade their group members’ participation in the group work (peer review/assessment). 

Tools and technologies to support this assessment type include:

Preparing Students

Introduce students to the rationale for using group assessment in the module. It is important that students understand the benefits of working together with their peers on a specific assignment. Encourage students to set ground rules for their group (and ‘netiquette’ in online environments) to support a positive dynamic within the group. To support equal distribution of the work among group members, students could be assigned specific roles or areas of work for which they are responsible to complete. It may also be beneficial for the groups to agree deadlines with each other on individual tasks. Students are likely to benefit from clear guidance from their lecturer/tutor about these practical ways of working together, including advice on what to do if they encounter significant difficulties or conflict. See also Surviving Group Work: Tips for Students.

Students can receive structured induction on how they can be inclusive of all students in the group and help all to learn well and complete tasks. 

Students will need guidance on the tools and technologies available to them to engage in online group work and collaboration (e.g. Google docs, Google Meets, Zoom, Online Discussion Forum, etc.). Students may need technical upskilling and or time in class to practice the relevant technology.