Guide to conducting Group Work

First Year, Second Year, Third Year
Assessment, Guided activity, Open-ended activity
Biological Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Life sciences
University of New South Wales
Nov 2022

How to teach students to work effectively in groups

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About this resource


This resource is a ‘how to’ guide on setting up group projects to improve student experience when working in groups. The examples and tips provided can be adapted into any discipline with group work components to teach students how to work effectively in a group. The resource also contains an example group assessment task in the biochemistry discipline that can be adapted by other biochemistry educators.



Pedagogical backing


Learning to work together in a group is a graduate attribute all university students must master. While students complete multiple group projects across courses throughout their undergraduate years, they are often not taught how to work in a group. Therefore, group work is consistently rated as one of the most disliked activities by students across all Faculties(1). Therefore a term-long program was developed to teach students how to work successfully work in a group.

1 Burke, Alison. “Group Work: How to Use Groups Effectively.” The Journal of effective Teaching 11, no 2 (2011): 87-95

How is the resource used

The first resource is a general ”how to” guide for instructors from all disciplines on what to consider when developing group projects.
The second resource is an example group project used in a second biochemistry course. This is a term-long assessment task that improves student skills around group work, communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking.

Student evaluation

Yes, the group project was first introduced in 2018 and has been part of the BIOC2181 course since then. Changes were implemented to the project to involve a component to teach students about how to work effectively in a group in 2019, based on student feedback from 2018. Up to date close to 650 students have partaken in the project. From 2017 to 2020 (when the course went fully online), there has been an annual increase in students reporting that they felt part of the learning community. The program appears to have helped students form better connections with their peers from the beginning, which led to better engagement in the course overall. The majority (88%) of students agreed or strongly agreed that through the group activity they learned invaluable skills such as strategies to meet deadlines, problem solving through open discussions, understanding some aspects of scientific research, having the flexibility to be creative, improving presentation skills, seeing the real-life applications of biochemistry, sharing the workload, using feedback to improve work, and learning through teaching.


Nirmani Wijenayake –

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