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Richard Ascough

Thanks Tony. I've done something similar in my online courses with small group work, but never in the face-to-face classroom. I'm looking forward to implementing it next Fall.

Tony Finitsis

Hi Roger,
Thank you very much for your response.

As for your Fall Bible Intro class, let me shamelessly steal Israel’s idea and propose that you may ask your students to create congregation-contracted projects. It could be a sermon, an adult education course etc.

Of course you can abandon all reason, kiss your family goodbye, and do something like the “PLU Hebrew Idol” project. Who said insanity was not contagious?

Tony Finitsis

Hey Israel,
I’m so glad to hear that you are “keeping it real” too. The idea that they have to work with an outside “contractor” is brilliant.

I love also the idea of grades as “limited goods” in the philosophy class. One of the things our students have to face in college is that we cannot all be winners.

My policy is to assign the same grade to all members of a team. I do, however, retain the right to consider different grades under circumstances that call for it.

Roger Nam

Tony, I must admit that I've been teaching at seminaries since 2006 and I have never assigned a single group project precisely because I hated them as a student. This is a great reminder that group projects can be more reflective of the real world than the solitary book review or paper, particularly for those of us involved in the vocational preparation for students to lead communities of faith. Now, I guess this means that I need to think of a group project for my Fall Bible Intro class...

Israel Galindo

Very nice. I tap into similar dynamics in two of my classes. In the curriculum design course, students must work in groups to produce a "real" curricular product. They must self-organize, plan, get stuck, unstuck, hold each other accountable, and produce a product to meet a real deadline. Sometimes the project is with a publisher who contracts for the work. Sometimes the product is for a specific congregation. One option is to produce and publish the product (listed on Amazon.com). The grade for each member of the group is based on the product produced, not individual efforts (or intentions).

In a philosophy course the final grade is based on the end of course debate. Winning team of the debate get an A for the course. Losing team can only get a B for the course.

Tony Finitsis

Hi Kate,
Thank you for your response.
You are right the project manager position helps empower the "grade-conscious" students and holds the "freeloaders" responsible. It makes laziness difficult to hide.


A project manager - that is brilliant! I find that lazy students like group projects, while anxious/grade-conscious students hate them. This is an excellent idea for letting the grade-conscious ones have some "authority" to be bossy, while reminding the lazy ones that they will be held accountable. Thanks for the tip.

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