Ok, in my readings this week by Palloff and Pratt (2005, 2007), came across a couple of discussions that I would like to reiterate.
The first item would focus on assessment of collaborative activity. It is a challenge for educators to determine the best methods for assessment of group work. As Palloff and Pratt (2005) said, “A simple rule to remember when assessing collaborative work is that collaborative activities are best assessed collaboratively.” (pg 44). This means that evaluations should not just rest on the shoulders of the instructor. Evaluations must also be shared by peers in the group. Instructors can assess the overall outcome of the collaborative work as well as individual work. However, they should equally take into account peer evaluations (Palloff and Pratt, 2005).
Peer evaluations give the instructor insight into the group dynamic that may not have been obvious from the outside. However, should a peer evaluation seem to have a detrimental bias, due to internal or unresolved conflict within the group, the instructor should be allowed to override a peer assessment if warranted (Palloff and Pratt, 2005).
Now, what about the group member who is resistant or uncooperative in the group? There are several approaches to help deal with this. First of all, the group when initially established should develop a group charter. A group charter is a simple document that outlines rolls and responsibilities of each group member. This charter can set in place guidelines to deal with the uncooperative group member. As a cooperative document the charter ensures “buy-in from all members of the team (Palloff and Pratt, 2005, pg 29)
If a charter doesn’t motivate all group members, then further action should be taken by group members to encourage participation by the reluctant member. They could contact the member to determine the reasons for the non-participation. Ultimately, however, the group would have to involve the instructor if the reluctant member refuses to cooperate.
Proper design of projects and assessments is also a key to assessing collaborative work. If the group fully understands what is to be done and how it is to be assessed at the beginning there is a greater chance of full buy-in by all group members (Palloff and Pratt, 2005)
I found a blog post at http://cilass.group.shef.ac.uk/?p=153 where the author gives some suggestions to assist with the group dynamic. They mention activities such as icebreakers that allow group members to share strengths and weaknesses so group work can be shared appropriately. Also, they mention in the safety of a group environment members could try things they have little skill at to learn and practice the skill.
Palloff, R. and Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating online. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Pallof, R. and Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.