In proceedings 2004 ASEE Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, June 2004.
Automating the process of assigning students to cooperative-learning teams
Ryan Cavanaugh, Matt Ellis, Richard Layton and Mark Ardis

This paper describes the initial development and testing of a web-based system to assign students to teams using instructor-defined criteria, including criteria consistent with the cooperative learning literature. First, the instructor decides which attributes of students to measure in assigning teams. Next, students complete confidential surveys to determine their attributes. Finally, the instructor assigns a weighting factor to each attribute and the system assigns students to teams. Features of the team-assignment system important to forming cooperative-learning teams include: the instructor decides which attributes or skills (e.g., grades in prior courses, GPA, writing skill) are to be distributed heterogeneously across teams; the prevention, if possible, of underrepresented minorities being outnumbered on a team; and matching student schedules such that members of a team have a reasonable expectation of being able to meet outside of class.

To test the system, 86 students already assigned to teams by instructors in four sections of a sophomore-level course completed the survey in Spring 2003. In this paper, the teams created manually by the instructors are compared to the teams suggested by the automated system. The results show that the system is effective at meeting the instructor’s criteria for good team formation and saving the instructor time. The source code for the application is available under an open source license for free distribution and modification.

©2004 American Society for Engineering Education.

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Richard A. Layton
Last modified: 24 Jun 04