Having recently completed a group work assignment with classes, I always find it difficult to really know who did what. This is in spite of ongoing classroom observations and checking in with me daily with regards to their progress. What I devised to find out what went on behind the scenes was something I give out to each group at the end of the assignment. Equipped with a circular graphic resembling a pie, each group must come to a consensus. In addition to dividing the pieces of the pie according to each person’s contribution, I also ask that each piece be assigned a percentage value as well as a brief outline of the tasks completed by the group members. So people don’t get defensive, I explain that this is a way to reward someone’s efforts of which I might not be aware.
After having reached a consensus together as a group, they all sign off once they are in complete agreement with the information submitted. At the end, I am left with a wealth of information – a visual representation that speaks volumes, a sometimes startling insight and an accurate portrayal of who did what. I was really surprised by their serious approach and how involved they were in their negotiations. As mentioned before, some of the findings were surprising (the extent of one student’s work vs. the lack of another’s). More importantly, I keep them after the fact because a single image represents a lot and comes in handy in future discussions with the student or during parent interviews.