Assessment of Knowledge and Ability when Working in Groups

Barn som samarbetar-children working together

Group work as a pedagogical tool is decreasing in education. Several possible explanations have been presented, but we want to suggest one supplementary possible reason, that is, teachers' experienced dilemmas to assess students' knowledge and ability when working in groups. Previous research shows that assessment in connection with group work is a neglected research area. This project elucidates an urgent and basic question in everyday classroom practice.

In this research project we are studying assessment of knowledge and ability when working in groups and if it is possible to train and develop the teachers’ and the students’ ability to assess by use of education. Through an interdisciplinary collaboration with researchers from social psychology and pedagogy, we are studying how changes in communication and action concerning assessment may influence teachers 'and students' ability to assess in group work situations. An additional purpose is to test and develop a theoretical model of assessment in groups  


This study is conducted using a longitudinal quasi experimental design in which we examine changes in teachers' and students’ (11-16 years) communication and action in three different study groups. Two groups are randomly assigned to an intervention in form of a shorter education directed at both teachers and students, while the third group will not receive any intervention, but acts as a control group. Data are collected before and after the intervention, by means of questionnaires, observations and interviews. The analysis are both quantitative and qualitative.  

Preliminary results show some important aspects of teachers' assessment in group work. In order to implement well-functioning group work that contain elements of assessment on both group and individual level it is essential that teachers have developed professional knowledge of both the working method and assessment in group work. Furthermore, it is important that the teacher has a clear structure throughout the group work as well as the group task that students are working with. Before the group work starts, the teacher should plan the task, what should be assessed and how the assessment should be carried out. It is also vital that the teacher make the assessment strategies transparent for the students. Likewise it is also important that the teacher supports students' development and learning by providing frequent feedback. Finally, preliminary analyses show that teachers use different modes of languages, i.e., the use of everyday language, pseudo-meta-language and meta-language, can influence their ability to through a common professional language develop their assessment practice in group work. 

The project is funded by the Swedish Research Council and runs 2013-2017. 


Read a recently published article from the project by Karin Forslund Frykedal & Eva Hammar Chiriac (2017): "Student Collaboration in Group Work: Inclusion as Participation".


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