Getting Past Anti-Groupwork Excuses to the Real Issues They Hide
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The call for future oriented curriculum using groups and teams is continually iterated in the literature, but appears to be largely ignored or the attempts have been immobilised due to a proliferation of excuses related to group work. Willingness to take up the challenge and risk take is needed to develop a theoretical model leading to appropriate curriculum and assessment practices using groups and teams. While many academics have embraced group pedagogies many have not yet logically and practically accepted all of the consequences of this option in a future that demands it. There are a number of misconceptions about group or team assessment, and these are often tendered as excuses against its incorporation into teaching. These excuses hide legitimate issues regarding the choice of group work as a learning tool; but their continued acceptance prevents academics from properly engaging with the needs and benefits of group work. This paper lists a number of the more common excuses surrounding the assessment of group and team projects and the real issues that they hide— issues regarding the different nature of group assessment, and the different competencies that are required both of students and staff. This paper does not advocate the removal of individual assessment within the group context, rather, it supports its inclusion only when coupled with a proper understanding of group and team approaches, and when performed with an appropriately constructed assessment tool. It is no longer a question of either/or but recognising the best way to prepare graduates for the uncertain and perhaps, arbitrary prospect of functioning in multi-contributor environments.
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