Exploratory research into enhancing inclusive collaboration skills through group assessment at Brighton School of Business and Law 2022

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Abstract As educators at the University of Brighton School of Business and Law (SBL), we are well versed in the challenges and opportunities of group/team assessment within our cohorts. We have increasingly sought to address some of the challenges which are reflected in student feedback, and which negatively impact satisfaction and national survey results such as the National Student Survey (NSS) and therefore the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) metrics. Clear rationales for including assessed group work align with the requirement for authentic evaluation; inclusion, belonging and social connectedness; and the social interaction key for wellbeing and resilience (Carter, 2010; Hart et al, 2007; Seligman et al, 2005). Group work also supports the building of emotional intelligence and self-awareness, which is important for authentic leadership (Wiewiora & Kowalkiewicz, 2019). Additionally, the opportunity to build course cohesion and improve the student learning environment potentially impacts employability in an increasingly hybrid/global workplace. One such skill is that of becoming an inclusive collaborator; a Graduate Attribute which the University of Brighton seeks to develop. This is corroborated by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI, 2021) who identify teamworking and communication as in-demand graduate skills; stating that "The top three skills identified as being critical to employability are: Team-working, critical thinking and problem-solving, communication". They also argue that “employability skills should be embedded in courses from the start – and performance against them tracked." There are other dimensions to consider including Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). As Montgomery (2009) asserted: Group work in culturally diverse groups can enhance students’ cross-cultural capability and increase their sense of belonging. However, these outcomes are neither inevitable nor easily achieved –they rest on teachers’ pedagogic interventions. When these are absent fewer positive outcomes are common, as Australian researchers Summers and Volet (2008) identified when they surveyed home and international students. In UK Universities where cohorts are becoming increasingly diverse, it behooves educators to consider these factors to ensure parity of opportunity and engagement. Students have an expectation that their work is fairly graded and any ‘free-riders’ delt with (Maiden & Perry, 2010). There is a desire that educators not only mark the final submission but also assess the development and performance of teamwork (Britton et al (2017). In the economic climate, it is especially important to consider the challenges of juggling competing demands on student-time such as employment, caring or commuting as well as ensuring that academic standards are not compromised. Three action-based, exploratory, groupwork research projects took place at SBL in 2021-22 at levels 4, 5 and 6. Key findings indicate that co-creation methods, equitable grading systems, management of expectations around group working and methodologies which reward the process as well as the outcomes are all methods by which educators can address the challenges of group-working highlighted above. Additionally, the use of such methods serves to embed and highlight inclusive collaboration skills within the curriculum which make explicit the benefits of group assessment on employability.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationINTED2023 Proceedings
Subtitle of host publication17th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2022


  • Inclusivity
  • Group work
  • Assessment
  • Exploratory research
  • Employability


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