Group work self-evaluations focusing on three key elements greatly improve student performance and group achievement. The three key elements to evaluate are cooperation, communication, and completion of assigned tasks. When these elements are focused on and assessed individually, teachers can guide students to perform at stronger levels, improving participation in group discussions, projects, and reflections.This strategy can be used in a variety of instructional settings, including during group projects, discussions, debates, writing, and ice-breaking or brainstorming activities.
Determine in which situations self-evaluations are needed. While this group evaluation works well in discussion, debate, and some writing situations, it can also be used for ice-breaking and brainstorming ideas as a class and when in preparing for group projects or presentations.
Consider if the self-evaluations are going to be used for an extension of an activity where group roles are practiced or switched? Or is the self-evaluation going to be used for introducing new concepts?
Depending on the situation, teachers can assign group roles to scaffold students in sustaining improvements in group work; these roles could include secretary, leader, and assistants.
Choose, create, or adapt an appropriate self-evaluation tool. For support, consult the examples in the resources section.
Explain the self-evaluation and field questions from students.
Consider showing a video of groups at work and having students evaluate the members of the group using the evaluation tool. Discuss, as a class, which members are contributing positively to the group and how they’re doing so.
Complete a practice round with students so they can gain experience with the evaluation tool.
Question students about their experience within the group. Teachers should ask:
What action has each member taken that was helpful for the group?
What action could each member take to make the group more effective?
What words or phrases will you try to use next time to support your group?
Provide regular opportunities for students to evaluate themselves and group members using a self-evaluation tool. During these activities the teacher should circle the room and provide appropriate feedback based on what he has observed.
Assign the students to practice in different groups over the next few days or weeks. Besides increasing familiarity of process process and expectations, it allows students to start-over and try to improve their efforts in the next group.
Evolve the strategies for improving reflectiveness and motivation of students as needed. Additionally, as students become more familiar with the strategy, incorporate a greater range of skills in the self-evaluation; these might include social, writing, presentation, or teamwork skills in addition to the cooperation, communication, and completion of task focused on during initial implementation.
Clarify any changes to previously used self-evaluations when changes are made to support student understanding.
Ask for students’ feedback on the rubrics/surveys in order to maintain fairness overtime and especially when self-evaluations include newer elements. For example, in longer projects a greater variety of rubrics will likely be necessary.
It is important to be particularly aware of the specific accommodations that English Learners may need in order to successfully demonstrate their understanding on any assessment as well as any group evaluation.Self-evaluations should help students to reflect on the different roles to be carried out in the classroom and in social activities in school and in other organizations.
Modify and simplify vocabulary, translate where (if possible and necessary), and provide helpful clarification in a variety of ways, including visual and non-verbal clarifications.
Model intentionally the language students use to share and discuss. Repeat and have students listen to and repeat the language structures and vocabulary often.
Provide important word stems and phrases which will lead to success in discussion and group work. For example, for beginning EL students, these phrases are essential. Helpful sentence stems include:
What do you think, ______?
I agree because….
I disagree because…
Would you please repeat that?
Provide more advanced sentence stems for more advanced EL students. These could include:
For example, …
What I think is...because ...
In my opinion …
What did ______ say?
Based on the passage, I can infer that ...
Ensure that the classroom is language-rich, with anchor charts, sentence stems, and word walls. This will help students make quicker language progress. Encourage students to use the vocabulary and language structures with partners.
Perform a 1:1 speaking and listening assessment to evaluate students' skills before having students self-evaluate in groups.
Strategically group EL students. Rotate groups often once students are comfortable so that EL students can practice speaking in a variety of contexts.
Students with Disabilities may need additional accommodations in order to succeed in group work and understand self-evaluations. Teachers should make accommodations to support students with disabilities in understanding the soft skills and vocabulary of group work.
Collaborate with the special educator for understanding and supporting each student's accommodations as well as implementing such accommodations.
Consult the Better Lesson strategy "Unpacking an IEP to Support Students to Meet their Goals."
Some students struggle with group work and participation in group activities. These students may lack confidence or academic skills, or they may struggle to form relationships with other students. No matter the root cause, teachers should conduct 1:1 conferences with students who struggle with group work in order to set goals and subsequently reflect on those goals.
Meet with each student and support them to reflect on their feedback by asking questions such as:
Which piece of feedback from your peers about your participation resonated with you?
Which piece of feedback did you agree with?
Which piece did you disagree with?
Support students to set goals for the next time they are working in a group.
Ask students how you can support him or her to achieve the identified goals.