"Only did some of it": Dealing with effort and its lack.


I was struggling a bit with how to grade the summative aspect of a recent physiology project, particularly once multiple groups approached me (after the project had concluded) to let me know that there were issues with equality of effort among all members. My solution was to push out a brief Google Form for all students to use to evaluate the “attitude” and “effort” of their group members, along with an (optional) comment field for students to let me know why they were giving particular scores. Here is the list of comments offered (names removed to protect the lazy, original grammar preserved):

  • Awesome job! Collaborative effort!
  • He only posted a picture, didn't even do his part. ( I had to did all)
  • Did a really good job with contributing to the assignment. She was very dedicated to it and put in a lot of effort.
  • Only went on the project twice the entire time. Justification: "wasn't there in class when we worked on it one day." Called me to ask about it an hour before I posted it.
  • Contributed a lot of effort and time into this project. She used various examples for her sections she wished to answer and used precise language as well as citations. She also helped revise some of the sections that I was unsure of and overall did a good job contributing to the assignment.
  • He was wonderful
  • She posted a picture
  • Did everything he said he would do and very well.
  • She drew the awesome diagram.
  • Answered like quarter of one question. ( I had to do his part as well.)
  • Didn't do his complete part of the assignment. We had told him what to do and he only did some of it. Then when we tried to contact him he wouldn't answer, so we ended up doing his part. He found some good information, I just wish he put in a little more effort.
  • Worked very hard. Did all his work and made it look fantastic.
  • Did a good job on the sections he chose to write about for this project; however, he only did a small portion of the assignment and didn't do the other parts he was assigned. We were left to do those two sections. Otherwise he was fairly involved and most likely just forgot about the other sections in specifically mammals.
  • Did slightly more work than group member number 1. Did not ask questions or look at the project on the final day. Did not add much to the project.
  • Went on the assignment twice. Copied and pasted from your prezi. Went on the last day after all work was finished. Didn't come close to doing any of the work promised.
  • Barely did any work in class or at home. Didn't view the assignment on the last day.
  • She was the first to really do anything.

After collecting the scores, I simply averaged them and added the “effort” and “attitude” scores to determine the grade. Out of the 20 total points, the mean score was an 18, though there were a handful of students well to the left of the curve.

To address the problem globally, I created the above, anonymized list and began my in-class discussion of the issue by reading it to the entire class, before making the observations that it is not fair to put your group members in a position of having to “cover” your responsibilities, and that next year would be less-than-pleasant should the attitude continue into college life. I also made the point that as an instructor, I would have been much happier had those students who were not contributing equally come to me to tell me about the problems they were having, rather than having to ferret out the offending parties via group surveys.

In this approach, I was looking to get at the root of this issue, without publicly embarrassing or shaming anyone. I think it worked as intended.

Preparing them for college...

I think I'll pass