Academic Quality Procedures Handbook


University Policy Statement: Group Working - Minimum requirements

  1. This policy statement sets out the University’s minimum expectations for the organization, management and assessment of group work, whilst allowing the flexibility for departments to set standards consistent with best practice within their own discipline(s). The overriding consideration should be to ensure that students are treated fairly and that they are not overburdened with group or team working activities at the expense of other modes of learning, teaching and assessment.
  2. Departments (e.g. through their Programme and/or Learning and Teaching Committees) must ensure that students have sufficient opportunity to experience group or team working within their programmes of study, such as to satisfy the requirements of the relevant Programme Specifications and Subject Benchmarks, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) and any conditions stipulated by relevant Professional and/or Accrediting Bodies, and that the development of appropriate group or team working skills is incorporated in programme intended learning outcomes ILOs.
  3. Where appropriate, students should be provided with sufficient opportunities to demonstrate progression in their development of group or team working skills through module assessment.
  4. Where the assessment of group or team work counts towards the degree classification and comprises 50% or more of the overall module mark, a proportion of the marks awarded to each group member must be derived from an assessment of the individual student’s work, carried out either by the module tutor, or by self-assessment on the part of the individual student, or by peer assessment by the other group members.
  5. Departments are expected to provide students with an overview of the typical group or team working experience on their programme. This might include reference to some or all of the following:
    1. When group work should normally occur – departments may wish to consider the inclusion of formal training in group or team working in the first year of all programmes, either integrated into an existing provision, or as part of a stand alone “key skills” module. Where group or team work occurs at later stages in a programme, consideration might also be given to the inclusion of some form of skills “top-up”, providing students with the opportunity to demonstrate progression.
    2. ILOs, student progression and Personal Development Planning – Departments may wish to give special consideration to the intended learning outcomes for modules where assessed group or team working is included. In particular, they may wish to identify the specific skills to be taught and developed, to ensure that the assessment criteria test these, and to highlight the links between these and the relevant criteria to be addressed in the students’ Personal Development Planning (for example in RAPID or RAPID Express).
    3. Module Assessment – whole group and individual marks – in the light of paragraph 4 above, departments may wish to consider what might be an acceptable balance between process and product elements, and whether, in some tasks, the assessment of group/team working skills (process) as such, is appropriate at all. In cases involving a whole-group submission, departments may wish to formulate a policy on the use of self and/or peer assessment as a means of introducing an individual element to the mark. While the University does not wish to discourage tutors from using their own self and/or peer assessment approaches which are tailored to the needs of specific modules, it would also encourage departments to consider the use of “web-pa”, a flexible on-line tool available at: This tool has been designed to encourage student participation and reduce assessment workload, whilst allowing assessment criteria to remain “assignment specific”.
    4. The proportion of a module assessment which may normally be attributed to group work – Departments may wish to consider setting an acceptable upper limit for the proportion of an overall module mark which can be awarded for group/team work.
    5. Group size - departments may wish to consider what would be the most appropriate range of group sizes for group work in their discipline(s), (e.g. 2-3, 3-5, 4-6 etc), taking into account the nature of the task(s), the roles to be fulfilled, and the forms of assessment to be employed.
    6. Allocation of students to groups – departments may wish to consider the desirability of various forms of allocation of students to groups, for example, self selection, random allocation, grouping on the basis of ability/ past performance, or the completion of some form of aptitude test (e.g. Belbin). They may also wish to consider the desirability of rotating roles within a group, the rotation of group membership for different group/team working tasks, and the pros and cons of trying to establish a gender balance within groups.
    7. Teaching group-working skills – Departments are encouraged to require that all students receive adequate tuition and support in the development of group/team working skills (preferably in the first year of their programme) prior to undertaking any assessed group/team working activity. Where group/team working occurs in subsequent years, module tutors should be aware of the extent of previous training and be prepared to include an appropriate skills “top-up” prior to commencing the new activity.
  6. Departments are expected to formulate and issue students with information on their procedures for dealing with the following matters:
    1. Procedures for dealing with intra-group conflict– These may involve the inclusion of “conflict resolution” as one aspect of group/team work training, as well as procedures to be consistently adopted by all staff when approached by students unable to resolve conflict. Current practice across the University varies, but includes:
      1. Tutor encourages students to manage conflict as a group working skill – intervenes as a last resort;
      2. Tutor encourages students to manage conflict as a group working skill – does not intervene;
      3. Tutor calls the group together and resolves the conflict;
      4. Tutor does nothing.
        Example (A) would be considered preferable in most circumstances.
    2. Procedures for dealing with student long-term absence or non-cooperation – In the case of long term illness, departments should consider whether it is preferable to modify either the task or the assessment criteria for remaining group members. Where there is strong evidence of non cooperation, departments should have a policy either to reduce the mark awarded to the non cooperating student according to a pre-determined formula, or to employ a form of peer assessment.
    3. Procedure for obtaining approval for non-standard arrangements – Departments are expected to have in place procedures for dealing with non-standard arrangements, e.g. where the needs of a particular module require group or team work to be organised outside of the agreed departmental norms. In such cases departments may require a written submission from the module tutor concerned, setting out the educational rationale for the change, to be considered and approved by the relevant programme committee.

November 2006

Revised by Learning and Teaching Committee June 2009