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Collaborative Testing: Maintaining Rigor While Increasing Critical Thinking

Mon Nov 7, 2022 at 07:30 AM

After students complete individual examinations they form into small groups and take the same examination as a small group where they can discuss the questions and rationale for the answers.

How It Works

  1. Develop examinations, only need one copy of each examination. The class will use the same examination for the individual and group test.
  2. Develop groups, 5-6 students per group. Students can either self-select group members or faculty can assign groups. If students self-select, faculty then has the right to add students to groups that are not full to make sure that groups are evenly distributed.
  3. Students take individual examination on their own using their own exam response sheets (traditional method to taking examinations, which is done via Akindi at OU). After completing examination, students hand in their sheets with an “I” (individual) at the top, leave the examination on their own desk face down, and wait in hall until the individual examination period is complete.
  4. Students return to classroom when faculty designates, take their own examination and a new exam response sheet to an identified location in the classroom for their small group. On the top of the sheet they put “G” (group).
  5. Students begin to take the examination as a group when faculty states it is time to begin and are given a designated time (usually an hour) to complete the examination. Each student can fill out the sheet with any answer they select; they do not have to choose what the group agrees upon.
  6. After completing the group examinations, as a group they hand in their scantrons and then wait until all participants have completed the group examinations. The students keep their examinations at their desks again face down.
  7. After the allotted time and all response sheets are handed in, the faculty then reviews the answers to the examination so all the students have immediate feedback on their performance. The instructor should stress that they still need to grade the examinations and will review using point-by-serial. If a question is deemed unclear and misleading, throw out the question. Their grade may be higher than what was indicated during the review.


  1. Grade the individual students’ grade on the examination.
  2. Grade the group grade for the student on the examination.
  3. If the student receives 78% or better on the individual examination, they are eligible for the group examination grade.
  4. Group examination grade is the average between the individual grade and the group grade.
  5. It is important to note that students MUST pass the class on their own individual grades for the examinations (70% overall) before any group grades are considered. They cannot pass the class because of group grades, but they can receive a better grade in the class because of the group grade so rigor is maintained while encouraging the objectives mentioned above.
  6. If an individual grade is higher than a group grade, the individual grade is the final grade. There are no negative consequences for taking group examinations and students have rarely refused to participate in the examination.

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About the Author

Adapted from an OU Instructional Fair presentation by OU Nursing’s Barbara Penprase, PhD, RN; Lynda Poly-Droulard, Ed.D., MSN, MEd, RN; and Marla Scafe, PhD. Edited and designed by Christina Moore, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Oakland University. Originally published March 24, 2014. Others may share and adapt under Creative Commons License CC BY-NC

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