By Amy Cassaniti (

Group work. The bane of our existence as well as every student’s. As educators, we recognize the value of group work: fosters cooperation, enables collaborative learning, boosts public speaking skills, and aids in lesson differentiation. And, as most work places require employees to work together towards shared goals, group work prepares our students for “the real world.”

However, we dread the inevitable push back. “I don’t want him in my group. She’s not doing any work. We had a fight over structuring the presentation. Now, no one’s speaking.” On and on it goes. Well, what if I showed you a way not only to grade effectively a group presentation, but to allow students to accurately grade the presentation for themselves? Are you in?

As an English Instructor, I end my 1102 course with a poetry project. Basically, I assign each group of 4-5 students a selection of poems they must research, interpret, and explicate to their fellow classmates. I use the attached rubric to grade the presentation. The “Excellent” category is worth five points. The “Adequate” category is worth four points. The “Poor” category is worth three points. As there are thirteen rubric items, the total score possible is 65 points. I merely add up the points achieved, divide by 65, et voila! (sorry, I was a French language major as well). The raw score is ready. For instance, 55 total points divided by 65 equals an 85 or a B.

Now, here is where you engage the students in their own assessment. I multiply the group grade, in this case an 85, by the number of members in the group. So, for a group of four students, that would be 340 points. I tell the students, “You have 340 points to divide amongst yourselves. You can give everyone an equal amount of points, or you can divide the points as you see fit. However, the total must equal 340.” Students know who really worked and who did not. Students are also surprisingly honest. I have had groups divide the points so one person gets an A and another gets a C because they know who really worked and who did not. I have found this to be a very useful tool to compensate for the inequities that can occur when students must work together.

And the best part? No push back or grade challenges. C’est magnifique!

View the grading rubric hereCassaniti Poetry Group Grading Rubric


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