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Using Student Evaluations For Individual Grading In Team Projects

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.702.1 - 5.702.9



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Craig W. Somerton

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2425

Using Student Evaluations for Individual Grading in Team Projects

Craig W. Somerton Department of Mechanical Engineering, Michigan State University

I. Introduction

One of the challenges involved in using teams in the engineering educational process is the assessment of individual performance in the team activity. Typically, there are two extreme approaches to this challenge. One approach is to ignore individual contributions and assign the same grade to all members of the team. This approach can lead to poor student morale, and even more important good students may develop a negative attitude towards team activities. With the prevalence of teams in industry, this negative attitude could be detrimental in these students’ career development The approach at the other extreme would be to do a comprehensive team survey as suggested by [1]. The difficulty with this approach is the time and effort required by the instructor to implement it. In many cases what is needed is some useful feedback tool that will give an indication as to poor team performance. A mechanism has been developed in a senior level class in thermal design to provide this sort of information.

A primary premise in this mechanism is that the best individual grade a student may receive for the team activity is the team grade. However, due to lack of participation or performance, the student may receive a poorer grade than the team grade. This premise is based on interaction with industry and attempts to mimic industrial practice in evaluating team performance. How individual participation and performance is evaluated is key to the implementation of this premise. The basis for this evaluation is an assessment the team members provide of their effort and their teammates’ efforts on the team project. This paper continues by discussing the implementation of this team effort survey approach. Results of two such implementations are then provided.

II. Implementation of Team Effort Surveys

These team effort surveys have been used in two courses taught by the author. This paper will be concerned with the use of these surveys in a senior level technical elective in thermal design. ME 416, Computer Assisted Design of Thermal Systems, is a three credit, semester course with a very strong emphasis on design. During the semester the students work in teams of two on three different design projects. Students are assigned a different partner for each project. These assignments are made by the instructor using a survey form completed by the students, shown in Figure 1. In this survey students evaluate their technical background. The instructor attempts to create project teams that maximize the team's technical strengths, while minimizing the team's weaknesses.

Somerton, C. W. (2000, June), Using Student Evaluations For Individual Grading In Team Projects Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8819

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