Using Contracts and Forms to Support Groups

Peer-Supported. Connected learning encourages participation in peer-led learning, assessment, and feedback. Peers often are the better sources of performance feedback. In addition, working well with others is a prerequisite for success in the increasingly team-oriented work environment. But groups are not necessarily automatically successful. In our site forum, Dianne Simons provides an excellent description of how she organizes groups in her courses.

I provide clear small group expectations on two levels – task and interpersonal (product and process) and I use peer review forms that “spell out” those expectations… the secret of small group learning is to prepare students and to make the expectations explicit. It is also to “teach” that the groups are intentionally designed to address product and process.

Students do not always have positive experiences working in a group. By providing information about ways to establish working communication among group members, we prepare them to understand the process of small group formation and the best ways to create a product together.

An example of a group contract:people sharing contact info through smart phones

(1) How will you communicate?

(2) How often will you be expected to check for any updates from your group members/teammates?

(3) Will there be a permanent group leader?

(4) Who will be assigned to post the group’s assignment solutions per the due date policy in our syllabus?

(5) What will be your group’s policy, if any, on absences and covering for one another if need be?

(6) What policy will you have in place in case of resolving any intra-group conflict that may arise?

(7) Any other issues you deem as important


We often find that being able to critique the engagement of the other members of our small group eliminates the possibility of one member benefiting from the work of the group without contributing. It also provides an opportunity to learn critiquing skills.

This example set of Peer Review questions can help describe your expectations of group work and gather information about individual student involvement with their group, separate from project grades. These questions can be provided as a document to students, but a Google form and linked spreadsheet can make the process of Peer Review easy to organize that keeps student responses anonymous.

• Use one (1) peer review form for rating each group member. For example, if your group has 5
members, you would need to complete 4 review forms (1 for each of your peers).
• Complete your forms on your own. Do not “grade-fix” with other group members. Orchestrating high reviews for each other will not benefit you if you have done much of the work.
• Rate each member’s contributions to the project by circling the rating (1 to 5) which corresponds best to the person’s performance.
• Be honest. Accurate ratings will help differentiate the grades received in accordance with each
person’s contribution. Giving everyone the same rating probably is unrealistic and will not help reward the better performers for their efforts.
• Your peer review forms are due along with the group project.

This link provides the Google form with possible questions. Make a copy, edit questions, and rename for your own use in your own Google drive. Form settings must be unchecked. Confirmation page settings:  Do check “Show link to submit another response” so students can fill out the form for each member of their group. Do NOT check “Publish and show a public link to form results” to keep responses anonymous. or “Allow responders to edit responses after submitting”

Please share your own strategies for establishing Peer-Supported work by commenting on this post or adding your ideas to the forum in Participate.

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