Faculty Guide to Team Projects
If you are thinking about incorporating a team project into a course you teach, have used team projects in the past and have a question about next steps, or are wondering how to address a challenge you or your students face, this resource is for you.
This resource covers effective practices and resources selected to help you create, support, and assess effective team projects in your classes.
If your students are working in teams, and student collaboration is a goal in your course, you may want to consider using collaborative exams. During a collaborative exam, student teams work together to come up with answers to exam questions.
Research on collaborative exams have found that they can enhance student learning, benefitting both high- and low-performing students (Kapitanoff, 2009; Gilley, 2014) and reduce student test-taking anxiety (Pandey, 2011).
How to do it:
- Use a two-stage exam. In a two stage-exam students first take an exam individually and turn in that exam. Next, they take the same questions or subset of questions together as a team. You could also include an essay question on the group exam that is not included in the individual exam to determine how the group can answer a novel question. Final exam scores would be some combination of the individual and team score
- Administer a task-based exam. Student teams are given a project or task to finish in a certain amount of time. Students would have to submit or present their solution/approach to the instructor or a panel of instructors to receive their final score which would be the same for everyone on the team.
Team quizzes are one way to hold students accountable for pre-class work. They encourage the team members to discuss the topic and learn it more deeply and encourage team members to work together.
How to do it:
- Use two-stage quizzes. Two-stage quizzes ask students to take the quiz individually first, turn it in, and then answer the same questions as a team. This can be done with paper quizzes, online quizzes, or using student response systems. The final quiz score would be some combination of both the individual and team score.
- Use Immediate Feedback Assessment Technique (IF-AT) forms to provide students with instant feedback. IF-ATs are scratch-off forms that reveal the correct answer to a multiple-choice question (Cotner, 2008a & b). Teams must work together to discuss the material and come to a consensus before choosing an answer.
How to do it:
- Break the project into steps and assess each step. Break the team project into logical chunks and assess student work on each chunk and provide them feedback. These assessments could be for points, but still formative in that students would have the opportunity to make corrections on the final project. Divide these up over the course of the semester. This ensures that students won’t procrastinate and will also let teams know they are off-track while they still have time to correct themselves.
- Create and share rubrics for the project. A rubric is a useful tool to use to make expectations explicit to students, provide for more objective grading, and increase the efficiency and speed of the grading process. Rubrics list the essential elements that must be present in a student project and provides measureable standards at different levels for each element, including the points awarded for each level.
- Provide examples of good and not-so-good student work. Show examples of past student projects that represent superior work, acceptable work, and not yet acceptable work. Include commentary on what makes the work superior, acceptable, or not yet acceptable. Student examples can be linked to rubric elements to let students know what you are looking for when you grade.