“It’s so unfair” – Can we increase student perceptions of equity in the grading of group assessments by allowing them to declare a distribution of workload?

Laurence Matthew Shaw


One of the most common complaints from students about taking part in group work is that the efforts of those who make the largest contribution are not rewarded fairly. One possible way to combat this is to allow students to agree on and declare a contribution split when submitting group projects, in the knowledge that their grades will be adjusted accordingly. We consider the results of a survey among students who have experienced group work graded both under this format and the standard “everyone in the group gets the same grade” approach. Quantitative analysis reveals that, in general, students may prefer the declaration of workload split approach. However, a closer analysis of free-text comments showed that feelings are often more nuanced than positive or negative. Students with social anxieties seem to be particularly conflicted by this method of assessment, with many reporting feelings of appreciation at the perception that their work is rewarded more fairly, concurrent with heightened stress and anxiety at the idea of approaching the conversation around workload split with their peers.


group assessment; equity; anxiety; inclusivity

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21100/msor.v21i1.1376


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