Discuss The Group Work Process Essay

How can I assess group work?

All of the principles of assessment that apply to individual work apply to group work as well. Assessing group work has added challenges, however. 

First, depending on the objectives of the assignment, the instructor might want to assess the team’s final product (e.g., design, report, presentation), their group processes (e.g., ability to meet deadlines, contribute fairly, communicate effectively), or both. Second, group performance must be translated into individual grades – which raises issues of fairness and equity. Complicating both these issues is the fact that neither group processes nor individual contribution are necessarily apparent in the final product.

Thus, in addition to evaluating the group’s output, instructors may need to find ways to determine how groups functioned and the extent to which individuals contributed to the effort. This isn’t always easy, but these general principles can guide you, and the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence can help you find and implement the right approach for your goals and context.

Assess individual, as well as group, learning and performance.

Diligent students can be profoundly demotivated by group projects if they feel that their own success is dependent on team members who don’t do their share. One way to counteract the motivational hazards of group projects is to assess individual students’ learning and performance in addition to the group’s output. This strategy gives diligent students a greater sense of fairness and control and discourages free ridership. 

Individual learning and performance can be assessed in any number of ways. Some instructors add an individual component to group projects (e.g., a short essay, journal entries); some combine a group project with an individual test or quiz. Both group and individual performance are then reflected in the total project grade (e.g., some faculty members make the group grade worth 50% and the individual grade worth 50%; others split it 80%/20%. There’s no perfect breakdown, but the grading scheme should (a) reflect your goals for student learning and (b) seek to motivate the kind of work you want to see.)

Professor Solomon asks student groups to research a famous anthropological controversy, and give an oral presentation analyzing the issues, positions, and people involved. She assigns a group grade for the presentation, but also requires all the team members to write a short, individual paper summarizing what they learned from the assignment and what they contributed to the team. If the individual piece demonstrates a poor understanding of the material or a low level of participation in the group, she reserves the right to lower the individual’s grade by a full letter grade. If it is particularly informed, thorough, or demonstrates an exceptionally high contribution to the team, she raises the individual’s grade by a full letter grade.

Assess process as well as product.

If developing teamwork skills is one of your learning objectives for the course, it’s important to assess students’ progress toward that goal. In other words, you should assess process (how students work) as well as product (the work they produce).

Process can be assessed according to a number of dimensions, such as the ability to generate a range of ideas, listen respectfully to disparate perspectives, distribute work fairly, resolve differences, and communicate effectively. Since instructors don’t always have a direct window into the dynamics of student groups, they often rely on teams to self-report via:

  • team evaluations: each member of the team evaluates the dynamics of the team as a whole.
  • peer evaluations: each team member evaluates the contributions of his/her teammates. 
  • self-evaluations: each team member documents and evaluates his own contributions to the team.
  • Find samples of evaluations here...

These assessments can be quantitative or qualitative. They can be done as reflective writing assignments or as questionnaires targeting specific dimensions of teamwork. Think about which tools suit your purpose and context. Also give some thought to when you’ll use them (in the middle of the semester? at the end? both?), who should see them (just you? other team members?), and whether or not they should be anonymous. The Eberly Center can help you find, adapt, or create the right tool and determine how to use it to best effect.

Remember, too, that process assessments are subjective and students are not always straightforward when evaluating one another or themselves. However, in combination with product assessments and individual assessments, they can offer valuable glimpses into how teams function and alert you to major problems (e.g., particularly problematic team members or serious conflict), which can help to inform your feedback and grading.

Professor Montoya assigns a multi-stage information systems project where students work together in teams over much of the semester. Over the course of the semester, he periodically asks students to evaluate both the dynamics of the team as a whole and their own contributions, and to reflect on ways to improve both as the project continues. At the end of the project, he asks students to complete a peer evaluation for every member of their team, indicating each member’s contribution to the group. Professor Montoya’s total grade for the project combines a group grade (75%) and an individual grade (25%). The individual grade is based, in equal parts, on how each student’s teammates evaluated his contribution to the group and on the quality of the feedback he provided to them.

Make your assessment criteria and grading scheme clear.

It’s always important to articulate your performance criteria so students understand your expectations and standards. This is especially true if you are emphasizing skills that are not usually assessed, such as the ability to resolve conflict, delegate tasks, etc. Criteria for evaluating both product and process can be communicated by giving students a group work rubric (pdf) before they begin their work and then using it to provide meaningful feedback during and at the end of the project. 

It’s also important to think about how you will weigh the various components of group projects in your grading scheme. Some questions to consider include:

  • What percentage of the student’s total project grade will be based on the group’s performance vs. individual components? 
  • What percentage will be based on assessments of product vs. assessments of process? 
  • How much weight will you give to peer evaluations or self-evaluations? 
  • Will feedback from external clients also be incorporated into your assessment of the group’s work? If so, what sorts of feedback will you solicit: feedback on product (e.g., Does it work? Is it a good solution/design?), feedback on process (e.g., Did the group communicate effectively with the client? Did it meet deadlines?), or both?

A number of dimensions of group work can factor, either formally or informally, into a student’s grade. What’s important is to think about what dimensions of student performance matter to you and how your grading criteria and the weighting of assessment components can help motivate the behaviors you want to see. Finally, it’s critical to clearly communicate your grading scheme to students.

Find samples of group project assessment tools here...

Group work is a form of voluntary association of members benefiting from cooperative learning, that enhances the total output of the activity than when done individually. It aims to cater for individual differences, develop skills (e.g. communication skills, collaborative skills, critical thinking skills), generic knowledge and socially acceptable attitudes or to generate conforming standards of behavior and judgement, a "group mind".[1]

Specifically in psychotherapy and social work, "group work" refers to group therapy, offered by a practitioner trained in psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, counseling or other relevant discipline.

The field of Social work includes all voluntary attempts to extend benefits in response to a bio-psycho-social needs and avails them through scientific knowledge and structured methods.

There are six approaches in Social Work:

  1. Social Case work
  2. Social Group work
  3. Community organization and Systems approach
  4. Social Welfare administration and Social Legislation's
  5. Social Research and Social Policy Analysis
  6. Social Change and Social Action

Social group work[edit]

Social group work is a method of social work that helps persons to enhance their social functioning through purposeful group experiences and to cope more effectively with their personal, group or community problems (Marjorie Murphy, 1959).

Social group work, is a primary modality of social work in bringing about positive change, it is defined as an educational process emphasizing the development and social adjustment of an individual through voluntary association and use of this association as a means of furthering socially desirable end. It is a psycho social process which is concerned in developing leadership and cooperation with building on the interests of the group for a social purpose. Social group work is a method through which individuals in groups in social agency setting are helped by a worker who guides their interaction through group activities so that they may relate to others and experience growth opportunities in accordance with their needs and capacities to the individual, group and community development. It aims at the development of persons through the interplay of personalities in group situation and at the creation of such group situation as provide for integrated, cooperative group action for common ends. It is also a process and a method through which group life is affected by worker who consciously directs the interacting process towards the accomplishment of goals which are conceived in a democratic frame of reference. Its distinct characteristics lies in the fact that group work is used with group experience as a means of individual growth and development, and that the group worker is concerned in developing social responsibility and active citizenship for the improvement of democratic society. Group work is a way to serving individual within and through small face to face group in order to bring about the desired change among the client participants.


There are four models in social group work:[2]

  • Remedial model (Vinter, R. D., 1967) – Remedial model focuses on the individuals dysfunction and utilizes the group as a context and means for altering deviant behaviour.
  • Reciprocal or Mediating model (W. Schwartz, 1961) - A model based on open systems theory, humanistic psychology and existential perspective. Relationship rooted in reciprocal transactions and intensive commitment is considered critical in this model.
  • Developmental model (Berustein, S. & Lowy, 1965) - A model based on Erikson’s ego psychology, group dynamics and conflict theory. In this model groups are seen as having "a degree of independence and autonomy, but the dynamics of to and fro flow between them and their members, between them and their social settings, are considered crucial to their existence, viability and achievements". The connectedness (intimacy and closeness) is considered critical in this model.
  • Social goals model (Gisela Konopka & Weince, 1964) - A model based on 'programming' social consciousness, social responsibility, and social change. It suggests that democratic participation with others in a group situation can promote enhancement of personal function in individuals, which in-turn can affect social change. It results in heightened self-esteem and an increase in social power for the members of the group collectively and as individuals.

Functions of Social Group Worker[edit]

The American Association of Group Workers (1949) describes as:

“The group worker enables various types of groups to function in such a way that both group interaction and programme activities contribute to the growth of the individual, and the achievement of the desirable social goal. The objectives of the group worker include provision for personal growth according to individual capacity and need; the adjustment of the individual to other persons, to groups and to society, the motivation of the individual toward the improvement of society and; the recognition by the individual of his own rights, abilities and differences of others. Through his participation the group worker aims to effect the group process so that decisions come about as a result of knowledge and a sharing and integration of ideas, experiences and knowledge, rather than as a result of domination from within or without the group. Social Work Intervention with Individuals and Groups through experience he/she aims to produce those relationship with other groups and the wider community which contributes to responsible citizenship, mutual understanding between cultural, religious, economic or special groupings in the community, and a participation in the constant improvement of our society towards democratic goals. The guiding purpose behind such leadership rests upon the common assumptions of a democratic society; namely, the opportunity for each individual to fulfill his capacities in freedom, to respect and appreciate others and to assume his social responsibility in maintaining and constantly improving our democratic societies. Underlying the practice of group work is the knowledge of individual and group behaviour and of social conditions and community relations which is based on the modern social sciences. On the basis of this knowledge the group worker contributes to the group with which he works with a skill in leadership which enables the members to use their capacities to the full and to create socially constructive group activities. He is aware of both programme activities and of the interplay of personalities, within the group and between the group and its surrounding community. According to the interests and needs of each, he assists them to get from the group experience, the satisfaction provided by the programme activities, the enjoyment and personal growth available through the social relations, and the opportunity to participate as a responsible citizen. The group worker makes conscious use of his relations to the group, his knowledge of programme as a tool and his understanding of the individual and of the group process and recognizes his responsibility both to individuals and groups with whom he works and the larger social values he represents”.

Group work in psychology[edit]

Group work in psychology is done with a smaller number of participants for controlled effectiveness. It is an ethical practice that aims to bring out a collective positive behavioral and well-being change in the individual participants life.

  • generating a broad array of possible alternative points of view or solutions to a problem
  • giving clients a chance to work on a goal that might appear too large or complex for an individual
  • allowing clients with different backgrounds to bring their special knowledge, experience, or skills to a project, and to explain their orientation to others
  • giving clients a chance to teach and contribute to each other
  • giving clients a structured experience so their problem solving ideas are encouraged with a set of new practice skills applicable to their subjective environmental situations

Brainstorming is a method used to generate ideas. Participants mention ideas in any order (without others' commenting, disagreeing or asking too many questions). The advantage of brainstorming is that ideas do not become closely associated with the individuals who suggested them. This process encourages creative thinking, if it is not rushed and if all ideas are written down (and therefore, for the time-being, accepted). A disadvantage: when ideas are suggested quickly, it is more difficult for shy participants or for those who are not speaking their native language. One approach is to begin by brainstorming and then go around the group in a more structured way asking each person to add to the list.


  • Trecker and Harleigh Bradley, Social group work, principles and practices, Association Press, 1972 ISBN 978-0809618460
  • Joan Benjamin, Judith Bessant and Rob Watts. Making Groups Work: Rethinking Practice, Allen & Unwin, 1997 ISBN 1-86448-304-0
  • Ellen Sarkisian, "Working in Groups." Working in Groups - A Quick Guide for Students, Derek Bok Center, Harvard University

Further reading[edit]

  • Douglas, Tom (1976), Group Work Practice, International Universities Press, New York.
  • Konopka, G. (1963), Social Group Work : A Helping Process, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs.
  • Treeker, H.B. (1955), Social Group Work, Principles and Practices; Whiteside, New York.
  • Phillips, Helen, U. (1957), Essential of Social Group Work Skill, Association Press, New York.

See also[edit]

  1. ^Le Bon, 1910
  2. ^Friedlander, W.A., Concept and Methods of Social Work

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