Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience > Cooperative Learning > How to Use Cooperative Learning > Assessment
Explore Teaching Examples | Provide Feedback

Assessment of Cooperative Learning

Assessment activities can be categorized as either formative or summative, both of which are appropriate for cooperative learning exercises as they provide opportunities to enhance key components of cooperative learning exercises such as positive interdependence and individual accountability (which is one of the five key elements of cooperative learning).

Nearly any evaluation can be developed to fulfill either formative or summative assessment goal. For example, written reports can include a revise and resubmission process which provides students with feedback on which aspect of their work is in need of improvement prior to evaluation of the final product.

Assessment activities can be implemented at different stages of the cooperative learning exercise and can be conducted by either the instructor, the student, or group peers.

Timing of Assessment Activities

Pre-Exercise Assessment

Developing assessment strategies that are implemented before the exercise is to take place are most appropriate when cooperative learning exercises are more complex, time intensive, and make use of more sophisticated content. The success of such exercises hinges, in part, on the preparation of students and pre-exercise activities can provide a signal as to the importance and complexity of this work to students.

Assessment During the Exercise

Assessment can occur at either the individual or group level during the cooperative learning exercise, facilitated through careful monitoring and intervention or by a formal break in the exercise with all groups checking in on their progress.

Assigning roles to group members, such as summarizer, reflector, elaborator, and/or recorder/secretary provides a more formal mechanism for evaluating the progress of the group.

It is also possible to make individual accountability part of your group-work monitoring by periodically requesting random student reports or oral exams (graded at the instructor's discretion).

Post-Exercise Assessment

In order to make sure that all students are working towards the same standards, it is helpful to provide a detailed description (possibly a rubric or checklist) of how the project will be graded. (Find more information about developing rubrics)

Who Conducts the Evaluation?


Evaluation by the instructor provides students with feedback on the understanding of content, concepts, and applications. It is the most traditional of all formats and typically is the primary basis for evaluation.

Individual, Self-Assessment

Students can develop a better understanding of their learning process, a metacognitive perspective which enhance future learning, through active reflection on their achievements. Such assessments also build writing and speaking skills as students demonstrate their knowledge of the subject, problem solving skills, and contributions to group processing.


Allowing the opportunity for group members to assess the work of their peers provides important feedback on the relative merits of contributions and promotes cooperation as students realize their accountability to the group. A word of caution is appropriate, however, as the peer review process is complex, it relies on well-defined criteria and evidence-building that is clearly understood by all participants. (Learn more about using peer review)

« Previous Page      Next Page »