That said, some of my students e-mailed me yesterday extremely frustrated, more so than usual. And I ended up sleeping restlessly, I think because I was fretting about it. This morning, I went online and looked for other teachers' ways of dealing with group papers, and decided to add an assessment component to the grading -- something I should have included from the beginning, I think, for best results. Still, hopefully this will help. Their papers are due today; the assessments will be due Thursday. In case this is helpful to anyone else assigning group papers, this is what I came up with.
As a final component of the group paper, each of you will respond to this e-mail with a short individual letter (1-2 paragraphs) in which you discuss this paper assignment.Yes, I lose sleep over my teaching sometimes. It's sad.
What did you find difficult about this assignment, including working with a group (if that was an issue), and what did you do to overcome those difficulties? What do you think are the strengths of your essay? What would you still like to work on if you had more time?
Please keep in mind that the letter is not an opportunity for you to 'sell' your essay to me. What I'm looking for is an honest assessment of your writing process. This will factor into your final grade on this assignment (as a result, group members may not all get the exact same grade).
7:10 addendum: I've had one student send in her response already, and it's clearly going to be helpful both in grading her group's paper, and in helping me design the assignment better for next time I teach it. Good.