As an instructor, there are several issues to consider. So many ways to assess learning in a collaborative environment but the real question should be, “how to successfully asses collaborative efforts by the students or learners?” Within this research to locate the best possible direction, many common factors mirrored the other. The key to learning is making sure retention is achieved in whatever curricula prescribed to the learners regardless of the manner in which the instructor chose to present. Assessing that retention for an individual is much easier than that of a group because individuals have an easier time hiding within the collective work ethic. This is where the instructor must make sure collaborative rules are set in place and the clarity is given to all participating, how they will be graded and assessed (Durrington, V., Berryhill, A., & Swafford, J., 2006).
First, the instructor must ask themselves how will they grade equitably? How many rubrics will be given for each project and will there be an area for self reflection and direct questioning to clearly grade the efforts of the individual? Deciding on what should and should not be graded. How will the individual accountability effect the group grade or the individuals grade within the group? How and will there be a criteria and standard for the collaborative work? Punishment for the freeloaders within the group structure. These are all key questions in creating a valid and fair grading platform for collaborative projects. The main goal for this community is to encourage and maintain constant interactivity amongst the students (Durrington, V., et. al., 2006).
The Instructor’s key role in initiating a collaborative learning community is matching the right teams. Many instructors allow students to select their team members, which in the end, can cause major problems because the students can not assess their classmates as well as the teachers can regarding work ethic, learning differences, and cooperative nature. For the best results, the instructor should create the groups and allow the leaders to rise within the groups chosen (McInnis, J., Devlin, M., 2002). This puts pressure on the instructors to evaluate their students so they will know the strengths and weaknesses each student possess. How they should select can be any formula; age, sex, culture, or mix them up in any way. Whatever is their formula, the instructors’ evaluation must be good in order for a group to be successful (Laurette, 2015).
Not only should the instructor establish the rules, they should also establish grading for both individual and group assessment, clarity in expectations for the habits of scholarship, and they should also clarify penalty or punishment if equal participation is not given. This should be done in the rubric where self evaluation is given, as well as, group evaluation. With the group evaluation section, there should be description emphasizing fairness in the grading amongst peers.
Every aspect of a successful collaborative learning community is important. Even though the format is for a collaborative learning community, the role of the instructor can vary depending on if the model of community is cooperative or collaborative. In a collaborative community, the instructors role is minor. Their primary role in a collaborative learning community is more of a consultant role where the instructor checks in with each group/s to make sure they are on task and following the timeline set by the instructor. The group members basically run the community. They set the work schedule, communicate with one another to keep each other on track, decide how to define and solve any problems that might show themselves. The instructor helps in negotiating assessments which promotes them as overseers to the community and points the finger if a good plan is not set in place for a growing community (Diaz, V., Brown, M., & Salmons, J., 2010).
Even though the instructors position is limited in the day to day process, their role is still very vital because they help set the tone to the success of the groups and how they will move forward. Not only should this not affect their significance to the group but they still understand and know each group members strength and weaknesses based on previous interaction and projects done. .
Diaz, V., Brown, M., & Salmons, J., (2010). Educase. Unit 4: Assessment of Collaborative Learning Project Outcomes. Learning Initiative.,
Durrington, V., Berryhill, A., & Swafford, J., (2006). Strategies for Enhancing Student Interactivity in an Online Environment. College Teaching; Mississippi State Univ., Vol. (54), No.(1), pp. 190-193.
McInnis, J., Devlin, M., (2002). Assessing Group Work. Assessing Learning in Australian Universities.