Cooperative learning allows students of varying ability levels to work together as a cohesive group. Evaluating collaborative activities in the classroom means creating a rubric that scores the individual as well as the group. This may mean assessing each participant's contribution, allowing the students to evaluate themselves or asking peers to rate each other's learning.
Rating the Contributions to the Group
One primary area to include in a cooperative activity rubric is the student's contribution to the group. Specifically, this means rating how each member of the group contributed to the overall goals, according to Read Write Think. Allowing other group members to take over and do the work won't get the student a high mark. To assess this, start with a zero for absolutely no contribution. You may move the student up to a one if he does help reach the group's goals, but only when asked to. Gradually move up to a three or four rating as the student shows progress. For example, a two may mean that the student makes minor contributions, while a three means that he actively and consistently contributes. The highest score on the rubric should show that the student makes the most of his ability to contribute. This may mean that he takes on a leadership role or is engaged in every aspect of the group work.
Social and Peer Interaction Ratings
Speaking up and adding her opinion isn't the only way that a student contributes to a group activity. Cooperative-learning exercises create a learning community, according to the Prince George's County Public Schools. With that in mind, your rubric should include scores for social interaction. These may include sharing, showing consideration for others and working well as one unit. For example, a student who scores high on consideration to others measures would show respect and sensitivity to other group members' thoughts and contributions. The rubric should clarify the progression from no sensitivity to others or the lack of the ability to share to being able to work well with others.
Student-Led Reviews and Scoring
Unless you are sitting in the group for the entire collaborative project, you may not have all of the information that you need to adequately score students. This is where peer reviews help. Peer reviews allow students to manage their own learning and develop critical evaluation skills, according to the Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence. Students can evaluate each other using an age-appropriate rubric. The rubric that you would use may not make sense to a young elementary school student, so adapt the categories and explain the scoring to meet the child's developmental level. The rubric should include specific parts of the project. Doing so makes it more manageable for the student to understand and use. For example, instead of having the students rate each other on general tasks such as "communicated well," focus the scoring areas with something such as, "contributed suggestions for solving the group's problem." Younger children may need a basic point scale, with zero for a "no" and one for a "yes." Older students can use a graduated scale; for example, from one to four.
Create a Self-Evaluation Rubric for Students
Students can also evaluate themselves within the structure of a collaborative learning activity. Adding a self-reflection rubric can give you a better picture of each individual learner's contributions to the communal goal. Grading group activities requires you to assess process along with the overall product, according to the Penn State Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence. A self-assessment shows how the student feels about her own contributions to the project. If your students are in the early grade-school years, try a simple "zero means no" and "one means yes" rubric. For example, if the first grader feels that she did contribute her own ideas to the activity, she would give herself a one. Older students can use a scale similar to the peer review rubric. Create a graduated type of grading in which a zero is no contribution, a one is minimal, a two is an average amount and a three equals full participation.
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