Managing the Dynamics of Group Projects in Higher Education: Best Practices Suggested by Empirical Research
Universal Journal of Educational Research
Employers know the importance of teamwork and seek these skills when hiring and promoting staff. To address this need, universities include group projects in their curricula with the goal of developing employable graduates with experience collaborating in teams. Many studies exist on the value and importance of individual aspects of group work such as team size, selection methods and ways to prevent social loafing. However, when designing group projects, professors make a host of decisions
... s a wide range of project components. Only a few aging studies bring together the varied research on group projects into a comprehensive and practical whole. The goal of this study is to analyze results of empirical research studies highlighting the best practices on managing group activities in face-to-face higher education classrooms. This study used a semi-systematic approach to analyze over 46 peer reviewed empirical studies. A semi-systematic literature review approach allowed for the summarization of themes and patterns across a wide range of study types, research designs and student populations. The results of this synthesis involve ten themes which address the central decisions faculty face when designing and implementing group projects. Specifically this study uncovered a unique hybrid approach to purposely assemble teams, demonstrated the need to keep teams small, pointed out the importance of early and ongoing team training, showed the need for a team charter, determined the value a high level of professor engagement throughout the project, confirmed the benefit of formative and summative peer assessments, established the usefulness of conducting rater training, and pointed out the advantages for using electronic tools to aid team processes.