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Online Group Work

Lauren Cunningham, Accounting & Information Management

Lauren CunninghamDuring fall 2020, I continued what is normally a semester-long experiential learning group project where graduate audit students are assigned a publicly traded company and required to analyze current public disclosures to design and plan for the upcoming audit (i.e., pretend that they were assigned to be the auditors of the current fiscal year). Because of COVID, I shortened it to 8 weeks and comprehensively revised the process—and feedback from students has been so strong, I’ll retain many changes even post COVID.  

Asynchronous Instruction & Group Work

Each week, students work independently through asynchronous recordings providing instructions of that week’s component of the project. This includes a combination of videos and written instructions. Within a team of four, the tasks for the group are divided in half. Two people do each half of the group project. Individuals complete their half independently and upload their individual work to Canvas for individual grading. Then, they copy over their individual work into Microsoft Teams prior to synchronous class time.  

Synchronous Group Work

At the start of synchronous class time, we discuss common questions and concerns about that week’s assignment, and then I break them into breakout rooms to discuss privately in their separate teams. By the end of synchronous class breakout room time, they should have a combined, cleaned GROUP version of that week’s assignment.  

Division of Work

To avoid issues with students overly relying on one member in the team, I pre-define how the work gets divided individually and I pre-define who has to upload each sub-component of that week’s project work into Teams, so that everyone has a chance to kick off discussion by talking about what they did. That also forces them to truly work together since writing/formatting styles would be naturally different across team members but it has to appear cohesive as a group deliverable. Since there’s always two people completing each half of the project, it allows for detailed constructive feedback from at least one other team member, but not so much feedback that you’re paralyzed into indecision on the group ‘answer’.  


Students’ grades for the project are weighted approximately 50-50 between the quality of their individual work prior to synchronous class time and the quality of the group version of the work after synchronous class time. Students do report needing to meet outside of synchronous class time to continue finalizing details, but they report it’s manageable because they were all individually prepared prior to the synchronous class time. 

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