Guidelines for Group Work in Writing Intensive Courses

Many excellent Writing Intensive (WI) courses feature group work assignments.  These guidelines are intended to clarify questions that arise when group work is included in the WI proposal. As with all WI courses, these guidelines are intended to be flexible.  Alternative means to the same end will certainly be considered.  CWP staff are happy to answer any questions you may have in designing your course and assignments. 

1. Group writing assignments should include some form of individual assessment.

Instructors should discuss how individual writing is assessed within the context of the group assignment(s). This individual assessment can take many forms, including but not limited to: dividing the full paper into equal parts, weighting individual and group work separately, having group members describe or reflect on their own and their group’s contributions, etc. Individual students should have the opportunity to discuss any perceived inequities with the instructor.

2. In the WI proposal, the instructor should note the pedagogical and/or functional purposes of the group assignment.

Like individual written assignments, group writing assignments in WI courses should reinforce content learning in that class. An instructor’s purpose behind using group work may be pedagogical (e.g., group assignment may mimic disciplinary culture), or functional (e.g., group assignment may enable students to participate in a written project too large for one student), or both.

3. Expected page requirements apply to the individual student, not to the group.

Group assignments should not reduce the total individual page requirements for WI courses (i.e., at least 20 pages in the course, 8 of which requiring substantive revision). Group assignments (in concert with other individual assignments in the course) should be comprehensive enough to allow each individual student to produce the same amount of writing as if it were an individual assignment. The Campus Writing Board will also consider actions outside of the typical writing process that are required for group assignments (e.g., reflection on group members’ contributions, providing peer-to-peer feedback, etc.).