Tara, Science in the City: tI think this is very difficult, but one way to monitor and address group contributions is to assign roles within the group. I have found that this works best if it is not a one time thing, but something where the roles are practiced and students become comfortable within their role. This helps them be successful carrying that out, and learn to interact as a group..
Clair, High School English on a Shoestring Budget: I like to have at least part of the project worked on in class. This allows me to monitor (eavesdrop on) how students are dividing tasks and get a gauge for who is completing which parts. I also try to use group evaluation forms, though with moderate success as my students don’t want to “narc” each other out to the teacher for not working. To help with that I remind them that they will also get dinged on their grade if they mark a classmate as contributing more than they did and that I’ve been watching who was working on what..
Jackie, Room 213: Like Clair, I monitor discussions in class, but they often change their focus when the teacher drops by, so it’s not always the most accurate assessment of what’s happening. The group evaluations help, but we can’t use those every time, especially for informal group discussions. This year I’ve started doing more modeled discussions. I pick a group of students who represent all of the “types” of contributors (someone who likes to take over, someone who likes to blend into the woodwork, etc) and we have a discussion together in front of the class. I direct the discussion so they can see what a good one looks like. Has it solved everything? No, but it’s one more tool in my toolbox!