Increasing Group Accountability with a Contract

Submitted by Peter Turner on

Barkley (2010) suggests that having members of a group read and individually sign a contract regarding their participation and behavior in the group will improve interpersonal accountability. EDU222 students are required to collaborate and submit a group case study. At the conclusion of the project, they rate each of their group members on a variety of contributing characteristics (see "Member Rating" attachment). Noting that average member ratings averaged in the 80% range, the author adopted Barkley's rubric to meet his needs and implemented the rubric in his Spring 2012 classes (see "Group Contract" attachment). Students in each group round-robin read the contract, and initialed each agreement. After the project, member ratings improved to an average of 88%. Moreover, student feedback about the contract was extremely positive. This contract is now in use in all of the author's classes with collaborative projects.

Barkley, E.F. (2010). Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

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member-rating.docx 13.65 KB
Average: 4.6 (8 votes)


Erik Huntsinger Wed, 05/16/2012 - 11:49am

Pete, I think this is a great idea.  When I was a student, I hated group projects because more times than not I found that I had to pick up the slack from free loaders in my group.  This helps spell out the duties to make an objective analysis of student's participation and make it clear to students what is expected.

Did you find that you had to deal with less student complaints as a result of this?

Fiona Lihs Tue, 08/14/2012 - 11:01am

Love this idea Pete.  I will implement a version of this with my CHM152 research projects this semester.

Rachel Holmes Tue, 08/14/2012 - 11:02am

Pete, I appreciate that you not only include the group contract but also the criteria by which students will rate one another at the end of the project. The group contract makes expectations clear and offers remedies for occurrences such as absences or missed work.  By also providing the member rating criteria, students are further aware of the impact (quantitatively) of their participation.  The combination of these two components makes a great deal of sense.

Heather Muns Tue, 08/14/2012 - 11:10am

This is great.  I do a lot of group work in my class and I am always trying to figure out a way to have the students do a peer assessment that quick and easy for me to organize.  I especially like your memeber-rating document.  Well done.

Kelly Loucy Thu, 09/06/2012 - 8:47am

For the past few semesters, I have had the students come up with their own contract, with varying degrees of success. I like how clearly you've spelled out the expectations, which the students sometimes struggle to come up with on their own. I'm going to give this contract a try this week! I

Jamie Lopez Sat, 09/13/2014 - 11:17am

Pete-  I love that the group contract also lists a plan of what to do if you do not fulfill one of the contract items.  It provides a clear way for students to focus on their requirements as a group member.  I do wonder- do you use the member-rating results for a grade in the grade book?   I plan to use this idea in my Child Development classes this semester.