Individual Student Understanding

Individual assessments are a way to ensure that each member of the team understands the material. Students sometimes have a tendency to “divide and conquer” a project, assigning specific parts to individuals on the team. Thus, it is possible that team members are only proficient in one aspect of the project. Below are some standard ways to measure individual competencies.


Individual quizzes are good for holding students accountable for pre-class reading or video viewing, especially when students will need that information in order to contribute to an in-class team activity. Multiple choice quizzes at the beginning of class or online before class are a quick way to test student competence in lower order learning outcomes such as remembering and understanding. Ideally, the students would receive feedback on their quiz performance soon after they complete it.

How to use quizzes

  • Use both formative and summative quizzes. Summative assessments evaluate student’s mastery of material at the end of a module or course. Formative assessments provide students with feedback on their performance with time to improve. They may be ungraded or for a small number of points for completion to incentivize students to participate.
  • Typically quizzes are given for points to measure what students have already learned (summative). This provides the incentives for students to complete the assignments required prior to the quiz. Quizzes, however, can be used as a formative tool to indicate where students are at with respect to a given topic. These quizzes can be used as a diagnostic tool at the beginning of a course or unit, a practice for future summative quizzes or exams, as a study tool for students to identify areas of weaknesses, and as a feedback tool for instructors to create supplementary materials.
  • Use clickers or other technology. Quizzes can be administered in-class using student response systems (clickers) that are linked to student identity. These are useful if you want to ask a single question or a few questions. Clicker questions are also a good opportunity for teams to discuss answers. Some instructors allow for a retake of a clicker question after team discussion for full or partial points. Quizzes can also be created online for students to take out of class. Moodle allows you to provide students with instant feedback on their performance.

Individual Exams

In many classes that use team projects, the instructors also want to make sure that each student is able to understand the most important course material and an exam is a typical way to do that. Refer to “Best practices for designing and grading exams” below to identify methods for creating exams with traditional formats such as multiple choice, short answer, or essay. Consider using other exam formats, such as take-home exams, to more authentically measure your learning outcomes.

How to use individual exams

  • Ensure that your exams measure the learning outcomes that you want students to achieve. Choose your exam type based on what you want to measure. Also consider the time it will take to administer and grade. For instance, you could combine a single short response question as part of a multiple choice exam.
  • Ensure that your exams are appropriate based on the class activities you use. If you want students to apply, synthesize, or evaluate knowledge, create exams that ask students to do that. Be sure to provide them with opportunities to practice with feedback, during class.
  • Use rubrics. A rubric is a useful tool 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 examination and provides measurable standards at different levels for each element, including the points awarded for each level.

Individual Writing

Some instructors require each student to submit a final reflective essay on their experience with the team project. These individual compositions can ensure that all students contributed in some way to the project. The grade for individual reports are often combined with the overall grade team project grade to create each student's final team project score.

How to use individual writing

  • This assignment may take the form of asking students to compose a reflective essay in which they address:
    • what they learned from their own work and from what their peers shared and learned.
    • why and how their group functioned well, how it improved, and how it could have functioned better.
    • how they contributed to the project and the team process. 
  • The final report need not be long. It could be a couple of paragraphs, a response to question prompts, or a post on an online forum.