Assessing the “I” in group work assessment: State of the art and recommendations for practice

Introduction: The use of group work assessment in medical education is becoming increasingly important to assess the competency of collaborator. However, debate continues on whether this does justice to individual development and assessment. This paper focuses on assessing the individual component within group work.

Method: An integrative literature review was conducted and complemented with a survey among representatives of all medical schools in the Netherlands to investigate current practices.

Results: The 14 studies included in our review show that an individual component is mainly assessed by peer assessment of individual contributions. Process and product of group work were seldom used separately as criteria. The individual grade is most often based on a group grade and an algorithm to incorporate peer grades. The survey provides an overview of best practices and recommendations for implementing group work assessment.

Discussion: The main pitfall when using peer assessment for group work assessment lies in differentiating between the group work process and the resulting product of the group work. Hence, clear criteria are needed to avoid measuring only effort. Decisions about how to weigh assessment of the product and peer assessment of individual contribution should be carefully made and based on predetermined learning goals.