Some interesting ideas on groupwork from educator Diana Laufenberg who advocates the following (as well as providing other ideas): let students choose their own group members; have students self-assess the final product; have groups use one of the many free online project management tools; "call out the free rider" and remove them from the group if necessary, and; take part in a group project yourself.
Social loafing (I do find this bit of jargon amusing), defined as “group members who shirk their obligations in the hopes of benefiting from the work of others. ...” (p. 256, a definition cited from previous work).
David Hall's insight:
This blog entry provides a quick summary of a fairly well referenced paper on the topic of free riding (referred to as 'social loafing' here) in student group projects. The blog summarises the hypotheses and results of the research thus:
Hypothesis 1: As the scope of the group project gets bigger, there will be a greater incidence of social loafing on group projects. Confirmed
Hypothesis 2: As the size of the group increases, there will be greater incidence of social loafing. Confirmed
Hypothesis 3: Compared to instructor-assigned groups, student groups formed through self-selection will experience lower incidence of social loafing. Not supported
Hypothesis 4: As the number of peer evaluations increases, there will be lower incidence of social loafing on group projects.Confirmed
Hypothesis 5: As the incidence of social loafing on group projects decreases, students are likely to be more satisfied with their group members’ contributions to the project. Confirmed
Hypothesis 6: Satisfaction with group members’ contributions is positively related to students’ perceptions of grade fairness. Confirmed
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