Scaffolding groupwork for students

Scaffolding groupwork for students

How can I best design groupwork for my student?

Two critical decisions when it comes to assessing groupwork are: (1) how to allocate individual marks and (2) how to scaffold groupwork.

This section gives a brief overview of how to scaffold groupwork.

One way to support students in their groupwork is to provide them with an outline of what ‘good’ groupwork looks like, and what you expect as a ‘product’ of groupwork. It is also a good idea to share examples of previous team projects (where possible/appropriate).

What makes an "effective" team?

Typically, effective groups start by establishing a common goal, learning about each other’s strengths and weaknesses, breaking the project into specific tasks, agreeing on timelines, allocating tasks while sharing the leadership role, keeping project documentation, discussing ‘team rules’, producing the final project brief and finally reflecting on their experience. We have developed a resource for students that guides them through these stages. Feel free to use it with your students as it is, or adapt it for your purposes.

More practical ideas

  • Allocate sufficient tutorial time to initial group activities, and even guide students at the early stages of groupwork (e.g. establishing a common goal/agreeing on a timeline, etc).
  • Remind or tell students about collaborative tools available to them (e.g. Google Drive). If needed show them how they can collaborate on the same document remotely.

Tip: You can include a link Google Drive Training from This training is available to students for free (requires MQ login).

  • Require students to lodge minutes of their meeting/actionables that they agree on (you can set up a Google or Qualtrics Form and include a link in your iLearn Unit).

Tip: If needed, provide students with examples of meeting minutes/actionables.

You can also provide students with these short videos on how to take minutes in meetings, keeping meetings productive and on topic and reviewing action items. These videos are free for students/require a login.

  • Require teams to submit an ‘interim’ progress report.

Tip: Research suggests that students should not be selecting their own groups, as it creates unfairness. Good students stick with good students, while struggling students are left ‘unwanted’. It is therefore more equitable to randomly assign groups.

Other resources

Macquarie University has a subscription to a range of video courses on general and transferable skills. These courses may help students to get a better understanding of teamwork, conflict resolution, communication across cultures, etc. Some examples are:

You could draw on these video resources when assigning a reflective task for groupwork. For example “Watch XX course, and write a reflective summary of your team processes, and how they could have been improved, etc.”

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