Group Work in Moodle

Moodle Basics Series

Learner-to-learner interactions can impact student success in a course and in their future endeavors. Group work encourages diverse perspectives, fosters creativity, and can lead to deep learning. It also helps prepare students for real-world situations where teamwork and communication are essential. If you have decided to include group work and group activities in your face-to-face or online course, Moodle can help simplify this integration. Moodle provides a technical solution for student submission of group work, online group discussion, and peer review. Register for this workshop or watch the recording if you are ready to get started with the technical details of how groups function in Moodle and how to set them up for different assignments. This guide will also walk through the key components of group work in Moodle and link to additional resources.

Getting started in Moodle

After you know the basic structure for a group project, you can set up the appropriate groups in Moodle. If you use more than one set of groups during a semester, then you will set up the project groups with students in them AND a “super-group” or grouping for the whole project. For example:

  • Scenario: Students will be analyzing a novel and will be randomly put into groups based on the title of the novel. They will submit one paper as a group. The project is called “Novel Analysis Group Project,” and the groups are named after the book title:
    • Novel Analysis: Scarlett Letter
    • Novel Analysis: The Bluest Eye
    • Novel Analysis: 1984
  • In Moodle, this means that the instructor will set up a grouping called “Novel Analysis Group Project Groups” and then 3 groups named Novel Analysis: Scarlett Letter, Novel Analysis: The Bluest Eye, and Novel Analysis: 1984

Learn more about setting up groups and groupings:

The instructor then needs to create the Moodle Assignment so that students can submit their work as a group.

Another useful way to use Moodle with groups is to use forums (discussion boards) for groups to be able to discuss, plan assignments, work together, and do group activities like debates.

  • Name groups and groupings clearly so that students will know what groups they are in for discussion or projects
  • Consider whether “visible” groups or “separate” groups best fit your assignment. Visible groups mean that students can see and contribute to their assigned group, AND they can view the work of other groups. Separate groups mean that students can contribute and view their assigned group but not see or contribute to other course groups.

NOTE: No students will remain assigned to groups when a course is copied to a new semester. In the new semester course, you will then need to delete and re-create groups to use the random/auto-creation or re-assign students to groups. If you use the group choice activity, then the new class of students will need to choose their groups.

Best practices for group work

  • Know your group work “why” and communicate it with students
    • Building classroom community
    • Learner-to-learner interactions = deeper learning and more engagement
    • Group projects can be more complex projects with higher-order thinking skills
    • Real-world or “soft” skills are important for work and life beyond content and courses
  • Set clear expectations for any group projects and communicate them to students. In particular, be sure students understand how they will be evaluated and graded.
  • Help students manage the process and communicate with each other
    • Consider setting up forums or Google Chat spaces for group conversations outside of class
    • Assign team roles so students know their responsibilities
    • Use “version history” in Google Docs to check in on student contributions
    • Integrate “team logs” so students can track how they are working together
    • Consider adding team contracts to your projects
  • Start with “low-stakes” group activities so students get to know each other and can work better in group assignments. Consider how you are creating groups to allow for variance but also relationship-building