Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Logo
Apply to SIUE

Center for Faculty Development and Innovation
ISSI Masthead

Group Projects

Scared Cat

Why group projects?

Groups and teams are continuing to become the norm in the workplace.

It is hoped that group skills learned in the classroom will transfer into the workplace.

Yet, from our colorful introduction, we see that group work in the classroom can have negative outcomes; you may have experienced this first hand

Students who feel they have learned from an educational experience are more likely to be satisfied with their education and therefore less likely to drop out. (Meeuwisse, Severiens, & Born, 2010, Mu & Gnyawali, 2003)

Therefore, due to the importance of group work in the workplace and the complexities involved, we have gathered the following literature and resources to help you make group work a success in your classroom.

Please note, by CLICKING HERE, you will download multiple handouts/templates/resources for making group work a success in your classroom.



While our introduction was very colorful and entertaining, it is important to note that it may be a bit misleading.  

Chapman, Meuter, Toy, and Wright (2009) looked at teacher vs. student perceptions of group interactions.

They found that instructors view group interactions more negatively than the students.  This means that while you may think students are completely miserable, the only way to truly know would be to gather student self-assessments (more on those later).  Also, the study found that students more strongly believed in the value of group work than faculty.  

So what is causing the negative perception?

The authors offer that groups having a negative experience are more likely to seek out the instructor than groups having a good experience.

What this article is proposing is that faculty should be more optimistic about group work in the classroom; especially after implementing the practices described in THIS RESOURCE (the same download as the one above)



GREAT!  You've increased your optimism of the importance and effectiveness of group work.  Now... how should we form the groups?

Should students self-select into groups?  OR Should you put them in groups?

Chapman, Meuter, Toy, and Wright (2009) also found that while instructors typically believe most students want to be able to pick their own groups, actually less than half of students prefer to self-select their groups and most would rather be placed into a group.

Placing students into groups is important for a number of reasons:

Groups should be diverse (Oakley, Felder, Brent, & Elhajj, 2004; Meeuwisse, Severiens, & Born, 2010; Mu & Gnyawali, 2003) 

Group members should have similar schedules.

Typically no more than 3 - 5 to a group (optimal but not set in stone) 

Group members should have complementary skills


Great question, here are some resources that compare different methods for forming student groups as well as propose a "best practice."

(Blowers, 2003)

                Click Here for Full Article

(Kinchin, & Hay, 2005)

                Click Here for Full Article


Setting Standards

Group members should have realistic and concrete expectations of the group (Huff, Cooper, & Jones, 2002)

Group expectations should be in writing

Group members should sign a group contract



Keys to successful evaluations (Huff, Cooper, & Jones, 2002):

Provide materials for student evaluations

Monitor groups for signs of conflict

Remind students to be continually evaluating

Provide ample time for student evaluations in class

Have students evaluate the group

Have students evaluate their own performance

Include qualitative and quantitative questioning

Always have an "any other comments" section


Many different methods exist to facilitate student evaluations

De Abreu Moreira & Da Silva (2003) offered an interesting technique wherein:

Student group submits project to rest of class (electronically is preferred)

Another group reviews and critiques the project and posts review

Original group receives review, makes edits, and defends project

This process supports student learning by teaching:

Ability to present work to peers

Social skills for making criticisms to peers (respectful, polite, & constructive)

Social skill for accepting criticism of own work (positively & constructively)

These lead to future group & career success (Mu & Gnyawali, 2003)

Students, on average, supported this electronic peer review process

See FULL ARTICLE for specific details


Tips and Tricks for Making Groups a Success

Promote social interaction outside of class 

BUT, commit time within class for the project (Mu & Gnyawali, 2003)

Trust is a big predictor of group success (Huff, Cooper, & Jones, 2002).

Effort, timeliness, justice, equality, and communication skills are core trust components

Students should not dismiss others from the conversation because of distrust perceptions.

Leads to groupthink and counterproductive actions.

Student emotions can signal group problems.

Need to educate students on effective group functioning.

         Establish lines of communication among members and between the group and professor.

         Establish rapport with each group individually.

In case you missed it above, Click Here you will download multiple handouts/templates/resources for making group work a success in your classroom.



The CATME tools help students succeed in their class-related team experiences and develop one of the skills that employers value most: the ability to work effectively in teams (, 2015).

Link to IDLT technology showcase (CATME video is first link)

CATME website:


Colorful Student Comments about Group Projects

"When I die, I want the people I've done group projects with to lower me into my grave so they can let me down one last time - Anonymous Twitter Post"

A brief and colorful student-generated webpage - Click Here



To access the video below, you will need to log into your mentorcommons account BEFORE CLICKING THE LINK BELOW.

Don't have a mentorcommons account?  Visit this page for instructions to get access.

How Do I Assign Students to Groups?


Copy and Paste into Browser:

Relevant Citations:

  • Blowers, P. (2003). Using student skill self-assessments to get balanced groups for group projects. College Teaching51(3), 106-110.
  • (2015). Homepage.
  • Chapman, K. J., Meuter, M. L., Toy, D., & Wright, L. K. (2009). Are student groups dysfunctional? Perspectives from both sides of the classroom. Journal of Marketing Education.
  • de Abreu Moreira, D., & Da Silva, E. Q. (2003). A method to increase student interaction using student groups and peer review over the internet. Education and Information technologies8(1), 47-54.
  • Huff, L. C., Cooper, J., & Jones, W. (2002). The development and consequences of trust in student project groups. Journal of Marketing Education24(1), 24-34.
  • Kinchin, I., & Hay, D. (2005). Using concept maps to optimize the composition of collaborative student groups: a pilot study. Journal of Advanced Nursing51(2), 182-187.
  • Lerner, L. D. (1995). Making student groups work. Journal of Management Education19(1), 123-125.
  • Meeuwisse, M., Severiens, S. E., & Born, M. P. (2010). Learning environment, interaction, sense of belonging and study success in ethnically diverse student groups. Research in Higher Education51(6), 528-545.
  • Mu, S., & Gnyawali, D. R. (2003). Developing synergistic knowledge in student groups. Journal of Higher Education, 689-711.
  • Oakley, B., Felder, R. M., Brent, R., & Elhajj, I. (2004). Turning student groups into effective teams. Journal of student centered learning2(1), 9-3

For more information or to contribute to this resource please contact Lynn Bartels
Feel free to contact Lynn Bartels at (618) 650-5448 or
facebookoff twitteroff vineoff linkedinoff flickeroff instagramoff socialoff