GroupEng is an open source (AGPLv3) program that makes it easy for instructors to assign students to groups for projects or groupwork, even with large classes.
GroupEng was written specifically to help instructors follow education research guidelines for improving student, and especially minority, performance in group project based classwork. It allows instructors to think at an abstract level about what properties they want student groups to have; GroupEng handles the details of optimizing the groups to meet those criteria.
GroupEng operates on class data from an excel spreadsheet (exported to a .csv text file) and forms groups of students based on grouping rules supplied by the instructor. These rules are defined using four grouping operators:
- Distribute: Spread students with some attribute (major, a needed skill) across all groups so that each group has about the same number of them
- Aggregate: Group students with some attribute (project choice, section number) together in the same groups
- Cluster: Ensure that students with some attribute (women, minorities) are not isolated in a group (there will be at least 2 of them in a group)
- Balance: Ensure equal strength of groups based on some numeric score (GPA, pretest).
You specify class data, desired group size, and an ordered list of grouping rules (earlier rules are given higher priority) in a simple text file, and GroupEng does the rest, outputting a grouping of the students, as well as statistics of how well it was able to meet your rules. GroupEng has a random element, so different runs with the same rules will generate different groups.
- Download and install python if necessary (you probably want this version), then download and unpack the GroupEng archive.
- Write a group description file telling GroupEng how to make groups for your class, see the sample files in the archive for examples.
- Run GroupEng either by double-clicking the GroupEng.py file in the archive and selecting your input file in the file chooser that appears, or at a command line specifying the location of your input file as an argument
We also have much more detailed instructions if you want them.
GroupEng is still fairly experimental software. I hope it is useful to you, but it is still a little rough around the edges. Feel free to contact me if you have any problems using GroupEng
Documentation and Publications
Kathryn's talk on GroupEng at the ASEE Lawrence Section in March 2012.
We presented GroupEng at the 2011 WEPAN conference in Seattle.
These two documents give a good introduction and overview of GroupEng and how you should think about using it. We have simplified the input files since those documents were written, so follow the example that comes with the program instead of the directions in the paper.