Blackboard Group Assignments Benefits

There are several benefits for including group work in your class.  Sharing these benefits with your students in a transparent manner helps them understand how group work can improve learning and prepare them for life experiences (Taylor 2011).  The benefits of group work include the following:

  • Students engaged in group work, or cooperative learning, show increased individual achievement compared to students working alone. For example, in their meta-analysis examining over 168 studies of undergraduate students, Johnson et al. (2014) determined that students learning in a collaborative situation had greater knowledge acquisition, retention of material, and higher-order problem solving and reasoning abilities than students working alone. There are several reasons for this difference. Students’ interactions and discussions with others allow the group to construct new knowledge, place it within a conceptual framework of existing knowledge, and then refine and assess what they know and do not know. This group dialogue helps them make sense of what they are learning and what they still need to understand or learn (Ambrose et al. 2010; Eberlein et al. 2008). In addition, groups can tackle more complex problems than individuals can and thus have the potential to gain more expertise and become more engaged in a discipline (Qin et al 1995; Kuh 2007). Group work creates more opportunities for critical thinking and can promote student learning and achievement.
  • Student group work enhances communication and other professional development skills. Estimates indicate that 80% of all employees work in group settings (Attle & Baker 2007). Therefore, employers value effective oral and written communication skills as well as the ability to work effectively within diverse groups (ABET 2016-2017; Finelli et al. 2011).  Creating facilitated opportunities for group work in your class allows students to enhance their skills in working effectively with others (Bennett & Gadlin 2012; Jackson et al. 2014). Group work gives students the opportunity to engage in process skills critical for processing information, and evaluating and solving problems, as well as management skills through the use of roles within groups, and assessment skills involved in assessing options to make decisions about their group’s final answer. All of these skills are critical to successful teamwork both in the classroom and the workplace.

References

Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. Criteria for accrediting Engineering Programs (ABET), 2016-2017 http://www.abet.org/accreditation/accreditation-criteria/criteria-for-accrediting-engineering-programs-2016-2017/

Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., Lovett, M. C., DiPietro, M., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works: 7 research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Attle, S., & Baker, B. 2007 Cooperative learning in a competitive environment: Classroom applications. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education19(1), 77-83.

Bennett, L. M., & Gadlin, H. (2012). Collaboration and team science. Journal of Investigative Medicine60(5), 768-775.

Davidson, N., & Major, C. H. (2014). Boundary crossings: Cooperative learning, collaborative learning, and problem-based learning. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching25(3/4), 7-55.

Eberlein, T., Kampmeier, J., Minderhout, V., Moog, R. S., Platt, T., Varma‐Nelson, P., & White, H. B. (2008). Pedagogies of engagement in science. Biochemistry and molecular biology education36(4), 262-273.

Finelli, C. J., Bergom, I., & Mesa, V. (2011). Student teams in the engineering classroom and beyond: Setting up students for success. CRLT Occasional Papers29.

Jackson, D., Sibson, R., & Riebe, L. (2014). Undergraduate perceptions of the development of team-working skills. Education+ Training56(1), 7-20.

Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., & Smith, K. A. (2014). Cooperative learning: Improving university instruction by basing practice on validated theory. Journal on Excellence in University Teaching, 25(4), 1-26.

Kuh, G. D., Kinzie, J., Buckley, J. A., Bridges, B. K., & Hayek, J. C. (2007). Piecing Together the Student Success Puzzle: Research, Propositions, and Recommendations. ASHE Higher Education Report, Volume 32, Number 5. ASHE Higher Education Report32(5), 1-182.

Qin, Z., Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1995). Cooperative versus competitive efforts and problem solving. Review of educational Research, 65(2), 129-143.

Taylor, A. (2011). Top 10 reasons students dislike working in small groups… and why I do it anyway. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 39(3), 219-220.

 

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. © 2016, Washington University.

Groups

Contents

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Overview


Group work improves critical thinking, problem solving, adaptability, and communication through clarification and evaluation of others’ ideas, all of which are valuable job skills.

The groups tool allows instructors to create groups of students within a course. Course groups have their own areas in Blackboard Learn to collaborate on course work. These spaces are equipped with tools to assist in the collaborative process.

You can use the groups tool and group assignments to foster an interactive online environment. A good rule of thumb to use before adding group activities is to only assign group work for projects that an individual student cannot do as well independently and finish in a set amount of time.

You can create a group assignment and release it to one or more groups within your course. Each group submits one collaborative assignment and all members receive the same grade. You can create a single assignment and assign it to all groups, or create several unique assignments and assign them to individual groups. Only you and the members in a group have access to the assignment.

The overall grade for an assignment can appear to users as a numeric value, letter grade, percentage, text, or as complete/incomplete. You can choose the primary display for the group assignment column created automatically in the Grade Center.

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Best Practice: Group Collaboration

Collaborative learning offers many benefits over traditional instruction. When students work as a team, they develop positive attitudes, solve problems more effectively, and experience a greater sense of accomplishment.

Ideally, all learning includes active student participation and interaction among students. Instructors who have not introduced group activities into their teaching arsenals may have valid reasons for being hesitant. Some do not want to transfer control from their teacher-centered methods of instruction to their students. Others have heard stories from their colleagues that the experience was not worthwhile.

Though you may find the move away from a teacher-controlled environment is a dramatic change, the benefits of collaborative learning may far outweigh any obstacles that you must deal with when implementing group activities.

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Benefits of Collaboration

  • Students retain information longer than with other teaching methods.
  • Perspectives from group members offer another opportunity to learn new material.
  • Students have a positive feeling about the course material.
  • Students who establish good relationships with their peers have a more positive learning experience.
  • Successful group work leads to students feeling better about themselves.
  • Students increase their social and communication skills.
  • Students increase their critical thinking skills.

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Challenges of Collaboration

Many students dread group work. Some motivated students report that their slower group members drag them down. Less confident students complain about being ignored or not taken seriously in group sessions. Groups may break down completely when some teammates are not contributing their fair shares.

Some students prefer only an individual effort and have no desire to help others or ask for help. They object to the responsibility that comes with collaborative learning.

Some students feel that they spend too much time on group projects and would rather be working through more course material and gaining more useful knowledge.

Some students may not appreciate having the same grade as their peers within a group.

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Before Assigning Group Work

You do not want students to see group activities as busy work. If working in a group does not enhance your learning objectives and provide value, consider other teaching techniques. You should use group work only for projects that an individual student cannot do as well alone and finish in the intended amount of time.

Research shows that students work harder when others are relying on them. To encourage this interdependence, create group assignments that require the students to divide the work to meet the goal, question and challenge each other’s ideas, and share feedback and encouragement.

Before incorporating group work into your course, consider the following questions:

  • Will the group work further my course objectives?
  • What introductory material or group resource information can you provide to help students succeed?
  • How will the groups be formed?
  • Will students be involved in the planning of the groups?
  • How will you assess students’ learning and maintain individual accountability? Will you require a group deliverable?
  • How will you handle concerns and problems?

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Best Practice: Group Membership

The number of students in your course and how well you know them can influence how you select members for group work and collaboration.

In general, include at least four members in each group. Four-member groups can accommodate an absence and the group can continue to move forward. This size does not permit any student to lurk without participating. Group members can distribute tasks evenly. Four members bring enough diversity, opinions, and learning styles for worthwhile brainstorming and solutions.

If you plan to assign group activities more than once, consider rotating groups throughout the term. However, allow groups to stay intact long enough to bond and be productive.

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Group Enrollment Methods

You can create groups one at a time or in sets. You can manually select group members, have the system randomly select them as you create group sets, or allow students to self-enroll in groups.

Manual Enroll allows you to assign each student in your course to a group. Manual enrollment is available for both single groups and group sets.

Random Enroll is available for group sets only. It automatically distributes membership into groups based on a designated number of students per group or the designated number of groups. Random distribution applies only to students who are currently enrolled in your course. You can enroll additional students manually.

Self-Enroll allows students to add themselves to a group using a sign-up sheet. Self-enrollment is an option available for both single groups and group sets.

Students cannot unenroll themselves from groups.

To learn more about which enrollment method might work best for your objectives, see Best Practice: Group Membership.

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Create Groups

You can create formal groups of students to collaborate on work, and create these groups one at a time or in sets. You can manually select group members or allow students to self-enroll. Each group has its homepage with links to tools to help students collaborate. Only you and group members can access the group tools.

Creating a Group (3:39)

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Creating Group Sets (2:28)

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Access Groups

On the Control Panel, expand the Users and Groups section and click Groups.

-OR-

In a new course, click the default Groups link on the course menu.

-OR-

Access groups using the default Tools link on the course menu. On the Tools page, click Groups.

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How to Create a Single Group

  1. Access the Groups listing page and point to Create on the action bar.
  2. For Single Group, click Self-Enroll or Manual Enroll.
  3. On the Create Group page, type a name and optional description. Make the group visible to students.
  4. Select the check boxes for the course tools you want to make available to the group.
  5. Click the Grade option and type Points possible for Blogs, Journals, and Wikis, if you want to grade student submissions.
  6. Select the check box for Allow Personalization to allow students to add personal modules to the group homepage. Only the group member who added the modules can view them.
  7. Optionally, select the check box to create a smart view for this group.
  8. For self-enroll Sign-up Options, type a name and provide instructions. You might tell students that they cannot unenroll themselves from groups. Type the Maximum Number of Members. Select any other options you want to include.
    -OR- For the manual enroll Membership section, search for and select students from the Add Users pop-up window.Your selected group members appear in the bottom area with a number showing the total count. Click the Show List function, represented by a full square, to open the Add Users area to view your selections. To remove a user, click the X.
  9. Click Submit.

The newly created group appears on the Groups listing page.

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How to Create a Group Set

  1. Access the Groups listing page and point to Create on the action bar.
  2. For Group Set, click Self-Enroll, Manual Enroll, or Random Enroll.

Follow the same steps for creating a single group. Then, depending on the enrollment option you choose:

  • For self-enroll Sign-up options, type a name and instructions. You might tell students that they cannot unenroll themselves from groups. Type the Maximum Number of Members. Select any other options you want to include.
  • For random enroll Membership section, type the Number of Students per Group to create or the Number of Groups. Select an option to Determine how to enroll any remaining members in the groups.
  • For the manual enroll Group Set Options section, type the Number of Groups to create. On the next page, click Add Users for each group to make your selections.Your selected group members appear in the bottom area with a number showing the total count. Click the Show List function, represented by a full square, to open the Add Users area to view your selections. When you open the area, the square icon collapses. To remove a user, click the X.

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Manual Enroll

Manual enrollment allows you to assign each student in your course to a group. Manual enrollment is available for both single groups and group sets.

   Consider…

With a bit of knowledge about your students, you can successfully assign members to groups to ensure heterogeneity or diversity. Groups containing assorted personality traits or mixed abilities can produce the best results. Students report preferring a group assignment made by an instructor to membership they choose for themselves.

You want to create groups that include individuals with varied strengths, knowledge, and even work habits. You also need to consider gender and cultural differences. Heterogeneous groups work especially well for generating new ideas and exploring a project from different points of view. The stronger members of a group will gain deeper knowledge of the subject as they help struggling teammates. The weaker students will not only acquire knowledge from the motivated students, but may also gain insight on how their group members approach their learning. Hopefully, the results are students feeling good about themselves for helping others and students motivated by peer examples.

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Random Enroll

Random enrollment is available only for group sets and automatically distributes membership into groups based on a designated number of students per group or the designated number of groups. Random distribution applies only to students who are currently enrolled in your course. You can enroll additional students manually. When naming a set of groups, the name of each group has a number added to it when they are first created. For example, a set of groups named “Research” results in groups named “Research 1,” “Research 2,” and “Research 3,” depending on the number of groups in the set. After creation, you can edit the group names.

   Consider…

Random assignment to groups may work best for instructors who teach courses containing many students—without the opportunity to know them individually. Though random assignment is easy for an instructor as it requires no preparation, some students may view random assignment as their instructor not caring.

By assigning students to groups, you avoid the risk that students who select their own partners will spend too much time socializing and forming cliques. No students are excluded, disregarded, or chosen last. Also, some instructors feel one of the goals of group work is to collaborate with people you do not know, and random assignment increases this likelihood.

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Self-Enroll

Self-enrollment allows students to add themselves to a group using a sign-up sheet. You can make sign-up sheets available to students on the groups listing page or by adding a link to a course area, such as a content area, learning module, lesson plan, or folder. When you create a group using sign-up sheets, you can make the group immediately available to use or available after all members have signed up. Self-enrollment is an option available for both single groups and group sets.

   Consider…

When students self-select groups, they tend to do so based on previous relationships or characteristics: friends, teammates, organization membership, social groups on campus, ethnicity, or gender. Students who have few affiliations may find it difficult to become a member of groups composed of like individuals.

Homogeneous groups may not need to spend a great deal of time bonding. They may already have a high level of trust and agreement so these groups may fit your intended outcomes best.

You need to consider how to promote inclusiveness or use self-enrollment only for those courses where you have students with like abilities, interests, and affiliations. You can also use self-enroll groups for group formation based on interest, non-graded collaborations, extra credit, volunteer situations, or for study groups.

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Edit Groups

On the Groups listing page, you can create groups as well as edit and manage them. Each group’s contextual menu provides quick access to the group homepage and group email. You can also access the options to edit group properties, delete groups, and create smart views. A smart view is a focused look at the Grade Center. It shows only the columns that match a set of criteria, and the view is saved for continued use. When the Grade Center includes a great number of students and columns, you can use smart views to quickly find data. To learn more, see Smart Views.

Editing a group allows you to add or remove members, as well as change its name, availability, and tools. In addition, you can allow students to create their own self-enroll groups.

  • Open: This option opens the group homepage, where you can add course or group modules.
  • Edit: This option opens the Edit Group page. Edit any of the initial options chosen when you created the group, with the exception of changing the Grade option for gradable group blogs, journals, and wikis.
  • Email: This option allows you to send an email message to the entire group or to select members in it. To learn more, see Sending Email to a Course Group.
  • Delete: Remove a group you no longer need. If grade columns exist in the Grade Center for the group such as for gradable group blogs, journals, or wikis, the columns can be retained. On the Delete Confirmation page, do not select the check boxes for any columns that you need to preserve.

You can allow students to create their own self-enroll groups. On the Groups page, click Group Settings on the action bar and make your selections.

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Remove Students From a Group

Sometimes you need to remove members from a course group. This can only be done by course instructors and system administrators. Students cannot remove themselves from a group. Students cannot remove other students from student-created groups.

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How to Remove a Student From a Course Group

  1. On the Groups page, access the group’s contextual menu and click Edit Group.
  2. On the Edit Group page, click the X in a member’s row to remove the user from the group. Click Remove All Users to delete all members from a group.
  3. Click Submit.

The group member is now removed from the group. To verify that a user has been removed, go to the group homepage to check the list of members.

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Delete a Group

You can delete a group you no longer need. If grade columns exist in the Grade Center for the group such as for gradable group blogs, journals, or wikis, you can retain the columns. On the Delete Confirmation page, do not select the check boxes for any columns that you need to preserve.

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View and Bulk Options

The ability to see the columns for the groups tools is controlled by the View Options drop-down list, so you may not see all of these columns when you first access the groups tool.

After you create groups, you have the option to make tools available or unavailable. Click the check mark in a tool’s column to make it unavailable—an X appears. Click the X in a tool’s column to make it available—a check mark appears.

With the Bulk Actions drop-down list on the action bar, you can select groups for deletion or create smart views in the Grade Center for each group. A smart view is a focused look at the Grade Center. It shows only the columns that match a set of criteria, and the view is saved for continued use. When the Grade Center includes a great number of students and columns, you can use smart views to quickly find data. To learn more, see Smart Views.

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All Users Page

On the All Users page, you can view which groups students belong to, search for users, add multiple users to a group, and delete users from groups.

Whether you are creating one group or a group set, you search for and select group members from the new All Users page.

Your selected group members appear in the bottom area with a number showing the total count. Click the Show List function, represented by a full square, to open the Add Users area to view your selections. When you open the area, the square icon collapses. To remove a user, click the X.

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Group Tools

On the group homepage, students can access the tools you added for them. Only you and the group members can access tools enabled for a group, with the exception of the group blog and group wiki tools. Group blogs and wikis appear to all course members when the tools are accessed on the course Tools page.

The following list describes the available group tools:

  • Group Blog: Users within a group can add entries and comments to the group blog to share ideas. You can grade group blogs, but after you enable grading for a group blog, you cannot change that setting. When you add a grade for a group blog, the grade is automatically given to all the members of the group.
  • Collaboration Tools: Users within a group can create and attend real-time chat or virtual classroom sessions.
  • Group Discussion Board: Users within a group can communicate as a group, as well as create and manage their own forums. The group discussion board is available only to group members, not to the entire course. Unlike other graded group activities, when you set a group discussion board to graded, each member is graded independently of other group members.
  • Email: The group email tool allows for efficient communication. The recipient list is automatically populated with group members, so you can quickly select all or some of them. Emails are sent to members’ external email addresses.
  • File Exchange: You and group members can use this tool to upload documents to the group area, and delete files, regardless of who added them. Files appear in the order they were uploaded. Uploaded images appear in a new browser window. This tool is only available to groups.
  • Group Journal: Users within a group can share their thoughts with each other and communicate with you. Journal entries made in the group journal are visible to all group members and you. You can grade group journals, but after you enable grading for a group journal, you cannot change that setting. When you add a grade for a group journal, the grade is automatically given to all the members of the group.
  • Group Tasks: Users within a group can define and separate the workload into tasks, while distributing the list to the entire group. Each task has a status and a due date to help keep members on track. Group members can view the group assigned tasks in the group tasks tool or in the course tasks tool. You and other course members will not see tasks for groups they are not enrolled in when viewing the course tasks tool.
  • Group Wiki: Use group wikis to create a collaborative space for group members to view, contribute, and edit content. By default, all course members can read group wikis, but only members of the group can make a comment on their group wiki page. You can change the default setting to allow only group members to view a group wiki. You can grade group wikis, but after you enable grading for a group wiki, you cannot change that setting. When you add a grade for a group wiki, the grade is automatically given to all the members of the group.

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Groups Page

No matter how large…organize, manage, and monitor your virtual groups easily

On the Groups page, you can access All Groups, Groups Sets, and All Users. You also can:

  • Import and export groups and group memberships.
  • Sort columns, perform bulk actions for deleting groups, and create Grade Center smart views for one or more groups.
  • Optionally, manage tool availability for all groups.

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How to Add a Groups Link to the Course Menu

Each new course has a default groups link on the course menu. If you deleted it, you can add it again. You can also customize the name of the link.

  1. Change Edit Mode to ON and point to the plus sign above the course menu. The Add Menu Item drop-down list appears.

  2. Click Tool Link.
  3. Type a Name for the link.
  4. From the Type drop-down list, click Groups.
  5. Select the Available to Users check box.
  6. Click Submit.

The new tool link appears last in the course menu list. Press and drag the arrows icon to move the link into a new position. Access the link’s contextual menu. You can rename, delete, or hide the link from students.

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How to Add a Group Link in a Course Area

You can manually add links to individual groups and sign-up sheets in course areas, such as content areas and folders.

You can set up a content area to include all the content and tools your students need for the week. After reading the weekly lecture, and viewing the slide presentation, students can also access the groups tool to complete the group assignment. Students do not need to navigate anywhere else in your course to complete all the required activities for the week.

When you add a link to a specific group in a content area, all students will see the link. However, if a student is not a member of the group, he or she will not be able to access the group homepage.

Use the following steps to add a group link in a course area:

  1. Change Edit Mode to ON and access the course area where you want to add a group link, for example, the Week 2 content area.
  2. On the action bar, point to Tools and click Groups.

  3. On the Create Link: Group page, select the type of link: groups page, to a group, or to a group set. If linking to a group or group set, select it from the list.
  4. Click Next.
  5. On the next Create Link: Group page, complete the Link Information to specify how it will appear in the content area. Select the options you need.
  6. Click Submit.

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Best Practices for Group Assignments

Whenever possible, give students opportunities to get to know each other or work in groups in a non-graded, icebreaker type of activity. The more comfortable your students are with each other in your course as a whole, the more likely they will succeed when working in smaller groups with a focused agenda. Simple group exercises not only help students feel more comfortable, but also can help them begin to trust one another and communicate more freely in the online environment.

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Prerequisites and Cautions

  • A course group must exist prior to creating group assignments for it.
  • Students who are enrolled in more than one group receiving the same assignment will be able to submit more than one attempt for this assignment. You may need to provide these students with an overall grade for the assignment.
  • Students who are not enrolled at the time that a group assignment has been submitted do not have access to that submission. These students can see only that the submission occurred.
  • Students who you remove from a group cannot see the group assignments. They can access their submissions from My Grades.
  • If you edit the assignment between creation and the due date, the entire group may lose any work already in progress.
  • If you delete a group from the assignment after they have begun the work and prior to submission, they will lose access to the assignment and lose their work.

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How to Create a Group Assignment

  1. Change Edit Mode to ON and access the course area where you want to create the group assignment, such as the Assignments content area.
  2. On the action bar, point to Assessment and click Assignment.
  3. On the Create Assignment page, type a name and provide instructions.
  4. Optionally, in the Assignment Files section, attach a file:
    • To upload a file from your computer, click Browse My Computer.
    • To upload a file from the course’s storage repository:
      • If Course Files is the course’s storage repository, click Browse Course.
      • If your institution licenses content management, click Browse Content Collection.
  5. Type the Points Possible, and optionally, associate a rubric.
  6. Select the check box to Make the Assignment Available and the option for Number of Attempts.
  7. Select the Display After and Display Until check boxes to enable the date and time selections. Display restrictions do not affect the assignment availability, only when it appears.
  8. Optionally, add a Due Date.
  9. In the Recipients section, select the Groups of Students option.
  10. In the Items to Select box, select the group or groups. Click the right-pointing arrow to move the selection into the Selected Items box. For Windows, to select multiple groups in a row, press and hold the Shift key and click each group. To select groups out of sequence, press the Ctrl key and click each group. For Macs, press the Command key instead of the Ctrl key. You can also select all groups with the Select All function.
  11. Click Submit.

In the following example, the group assignment appears in the Assignments content area where it was created and on the group homepage. The following image shows the instructor view.

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About Multiple Attempts

You can allow students to submit their work for a group assignment more than once. The group can receive feedback and a grade for each submission.

When you allow multiple attempts for an assignment, you can also select which attempt to use in the Grade Center from the Score attempts using drop-down list.

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Best Practice: Group Assessment

Individual grades or one group grade shared by all members?

A group is a team. Whether you assign the membership for each group or students select their teammates, hopefully, most students will feel committed to accomplishing a common goal. Individual accountability is essential for a group to work effectively and produce worthwhile results. When each member of a group receives the same grade, personal accountability becomes an issue.

You may find it challenging to determine individual grades for a group project. Some instructors assign all members the same grade on their group assignment. This eliminates competition within the group and keeps the focus on collaborating. To lessen students’ concern over sharing a grade, be sure the group grade is only a small percentage of their total grades.

Alternatively, you can use a variety of assignments to grade each student’s contribution. You can ask for peer evaluations, and review each member’s test scores, surveys, and reflective writing assignments.

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Peer Assessment Advantages

You can use peer assessment to obtain feedback from group members, and students themselves can receive a wider range of feedback when you share those critiques. Peer assessment is a means of allowing students to participate in the evaluation process by commenting on and judging each group member’s work. You can use the feedback to add a participation grade or bonus points to reward group members who performed to the outlined requirements.

If group members are aware of rating their peers in advance, students may feel a greater sense of involvement and responsibility. The team may produce a higher quality end product and learn more. You can use peer assessment as part of the collaborative process, and not just a survey submitted at the end when no opportunity for improvement is possible. You can ask for quick checks of how the collaborative process is working.

Ultimately, when you assign a grade for a group’s achievement and the contributions of the individual members, you need to consider:

  • How has the group evaluated its success and each other?
  • Does the group deliverable meet the assignment’s requirements?

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Rubrics and Progress Reports

Provide rubrics, standards, and guidelines before students assess each other’s work. Take the time to meet virtually with each team to discuss team roles, how you expect the team to work together, how often meetings need to take place, and how the peer assessment portion affects their final grades.

You can use a simple weekly progress report to help group members stay on track. Include three or four of the following questions:

  • Were the week’s goals achieved?
  • Was enough time spent on the group work?
  • Did all members contribute equally?
  • Did the members work well together?
  • What else could you have contributed to help your team this week?
  • What else could others have contributed to help your team this week?
  • Who contributed the most or least this week?
  • What is one aspect of the team dynamic that you would change?

Another way to assess how students feel about their groups is to ask: What are three positives and one negative about your group experience this week?

To learn more, see Grade Group Assignments and Rubrics.

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Send Email to a Course Group

The group email tool allows for efficient communication. The recipient list is populated automatically with group members so that you can quickly select all or some of them. Emails are sent to members’ external email addresses.

If groups prefer to keep communication within their course, they can use course messages, the Blackboard Learn internal mail tool. Because course messages is not available as a group tool, students need to select recipients from the list of all course members. Course messages keeps a record of all messages sent.

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Send an Email Message Within a Course Group

  1. On the Groups listing page, access a group’s contextual menu and click Email Group.
  2. On the next page, select the recipients from the Available to Select box and click the right-pointing arrow to move them to the Selected box.
  3. Type a Subject and Message.
  4. Click Attach a file to browse for file from your computer. You can attach multiple files. After you add one file, the option to attach another file appears.
  5. Click Submit. For Windows, to select multiple users in a row, press the Shift key and click the first and last names. To select users out of sequence, press the Ctrl key and click each name needed. For Mac systems, press the Command key instead of the Ctrl key. You can also select all course members with the Select All function.

A copy of the message is sent to the sender. A receipt page appears after the message is sent listing all recipients. The receipt page does not confirm that users received the message. It only confirms that the message was sent.

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Grade Group Assignments

When you create a group assignment, a grade column is created automatically in the Grade Center. You can assign grades to group assignments through the Needs Grading page or through the Grade Center.

After accessing the Grade Assignment page by either method, the grading process is the same.

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How to Access a Group Assignment From the Needs Grading Page

  1. On the Control Panel, expand the Grade Center section and click Needs Grading. The total number of items to grade appears on the Needs Grading page.
  2. Use the Filter drop-down lists to narrow the list of items to grade by Category, Item, User, and Date Submitted. For example, you can filter the list by Category and display only assignments and by User to select a specific group.
  3. Click Go. The filtered items appear on the Needs Grading page. Click a column heading to sort the items.
  4. Access the Grade Assignment page by clicking an item’s contextual menu and clicking Grade All Users.-OR-Access the Grade Assignment page by clicking a group name in the User Attempt column.
  5. The Grade Assignment page appears, and you can proceed with grading.

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How to Access a Group Assignment From the Grade Center

In the Grade Center, group assignments that have been submitted, but not graded, are indicated with an exclamation mark—the needs grading icon. All group members’ cells display the exclamation mark, regardless of who submitted the group assignment.

If a group submits an incorrect file—and only one submission is allowed—you must clear that attempt so that the group can resubmit.

  1. On the Control Panel, expand the Grade Center section and click Assignments.
  2. In the Grade Center, access the group assignment column’s contextual menu and click Grade Attempts.-OR-Locate any group member’s cell for the group assignment containing an exclamation mark. Point to the cell to access the contextual menu. Click the Group Attempt.
  3. The Grade Assignment page appears, and you can proceed with grading.

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Grade on the Group Attempt Page

You can view, comment, and grade group student-submitted assignment files without leaving the Grade Assignment page. When you view a document submitted in an assignment, that document is converted to a format that is viewable inside the web browser. Supported document types that can be converted are Word (DOC, DOCX), PowerPoint (PPT, PPTX), Excel (XLS, XLSX), and PDF. The converted document is displayed in a viewer on the Grade Assignment page. Formatting and embedded images in the original document are preserved in the conversion.

Assignment submissions created with the content editor are not compatible with inline grading. Submissions of this type show in the window, but annotation is not available.

To learn how to use the inline grading feature, see Grade Assignments.

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Change an Individual Member’s Group Grade

You can assign an individual group member a different grade than the group by editing the member’s grade. If you change a group member’s grade and assign a new group grade, the new group grade will not affect the individual’s new grade. Individual members only see one grade, not what each member earned. The individual’s new grade will not appear to the other group members.

In the grading sidebar, click the pencil icon to change the group grade for a member. Type a new grade and click the check mark icon to save it. This grade becomes an override grade.

The group grade and the individual group member’s edited grade also appear in the Grade Center. Grayed out cells appear in the group assignment column for course members who are not part of the group.

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Revert a Member’s Edited Grade

You can revert a member’s edited grade to the original group grade, which all group members received.

In the grading sidebar, click the pencil icon for the user with the edited grade. Click the left-pointing arrow to change the grade to the original group grade. The override icon is removed. The change also appears in the Grade Center.

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Add and Delete Group Members

If you add a member to a group after you assign a grade for a group assignment, the new member does not receive a grade, as they were not part of the process. Even if you update the group grade, the new member does not receive a grade. You can assign a grade for the new member from the member’s Grade Details page, but there is no submission available to view when grading.

If you remove a member of a group and you have assigned a grade for a group assignment, any grading updates are applied to that group member’s cell. To remove a score for a member removed from a group, click Delete User Attempt on the member’s Grade Details page. You are asked if you are sure you want to delete the attempt. The group assignment grade is deleted from the member’s cell in the Grade Center.

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Import and Export Groups

You can export a CSV (comma-separated value) file containing your existing groups and group members, reorganize offline as needed, and then import them.

You can use the import and export functions to add new users and groups, but you cannot remove users or groups. During these processes, you cannot add new users to your course.

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Group Codes

Group codes are unique identifiers used strictly for import purposes. You may reveal a column in the interface to see the group codes, but you cannot edit group codes while in your course.

Group codes also appear in downloaded CSV files. You can edit the group codes in the CSV file when importing existing users to a group to ensure the users are added to the correct group. Group codes are necessary to provide a way to identify each group in case they have the same name.

When viewing all groups, use the View Options drop-down list to show and hide the Group Code column.

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