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Project Workload Distribution Form

Each team member will “claim responsibility” to varying degrees for each component of a team's design project. This information will be used by the instructors to calculate your project grade. Therefore it is vital that all team members reflect on their responsibility throughout the semester.

Claims of responsibility will be reported in a Workload Distribution Form (WDF), which must be stored in your Google Shared Folder.

Important Notes

  • Every team MUST keep their WDF in their Google Shared Folder.
  • Your “signatures” must be the last changes made, after all values have been added to a given tab.
  • Not following the procedures on this page will lead to significant deductions and penalties.

Visual overview

Fig. 1: A simple visual overview of the Design Roadmap.

The visual overview in figure 1 shows the relationship between various key project deliverables and the submission and grading process.

Numbered links indicate the relative order in which tasks are performed.

At the start of the semester

This must be done as part of the kickoff meeting stage of your design projects, as soon as possible after the design teams have been established.

Get a copy of the WDF

Access the WDF Google Spreadsheet template.

Read more about how to share a google doc.

Each team only needs one WDF.

Prepare the WDF


  1. You must only edit cells that have a white background. Do not edit cells in grey.
  2. Changing the structure or equations in the cells of the WDF will be treated as cheating and will result in a charge of academic misconduct.

There are four tabs in the WDF. There are two tabs for the milestones (MS1 and MS2). One tab is for the final report. The last tab is only for instructor use and must not be changed by students.

In the MS1 tab only:

  • replace the SSNN in cell A1 with your actual team number;
  • replace the Student N cells with the actual names and surnames of each team member.

Note the major project elements

Each tab has columns that reflect the parts and subparts of the design roadmap. Check them over carefully and make sure you understand how the columns correlate with the parts of the project.

Note that each column has a weight ranging from 1 to 3, indicating the relative importance of the element to that particular assessment. There are no weights in the FINAL tab (or more specifically, the weights of all those elements are 1); that's because those weights will be assigned by the rubric used to grade the final submitted project.

During the semester

To complete a valid and accurate WDF, each student must do a few minutes work at least once a week, as described in this section.

How we gauge responsibility

All students are responsible for their projects. It's just that some students may be more responsible for certain parts of the project than others.

Responsibility is not the same as “effort” or “time spent” or how much of your work appears in the final report. Responsibility is about accepting the consequences of what appears in the report, whether you actually did that work or not.

There are two basic rules for quantifying responsibility in this course:

  1. Each team member can claim up to 4 responsibility “points” for each project element.
  2. Two (or more) students can accept full responsibility for the same part of the project.
  3. Each team member should contribute approximately the same total number of points.
    • Team members who contribute significantly less in terms of total responsibility (i.e., the total of a student's row in the WDF) will tend to get a lower mark.

For the sake of the WDF, we measure responsibility with respect to each of the main columns, which correspond to each of the main elements of your design project, which in turn corresponds to the major parts of the design roadmap.

Your job is to determine how much responsibility you yourself claim for each project element and subelement. As such, this is an assessment that is both the result of reflecting on what you did and negotiating reasonable values with your teammates.

You may give yourself zero points in some cells, if you claim no responsibility for any of the work done for that element. For instance, consider the CAD project element and a team of five students. Let's say:

  • Student A developed most of the CAD drawings.
  • Student B developed a few of the CAD drawings.
  • Student C reviewed all the CAD drawings for accuracy and noted problems to their respective authors.
  • Student D and E did no work at all on the CAD drawings.

Here is one of many possible ways that responsibility could be distributed for the CAD project element:

  • Student A claims 4 points because she did most of the work and claimed leadership on that element.
  • Student B claims 1 points because he did some of the work.
  • Student C claims 1 points because she reviewed all the work of the other two, but clearly isn't claiming responsibility for the actual development of the drawings.
  • Students D and E claim 0 points.

The points distribution is arrived at by the team as a whole, negotiating the values that best represent each member's efforts relative to the others.

To help you think about what “responsibility” can mean in this context, you can use the following rough guide.

0no responsibilityNo work done at all.
“I didn't even touch that.”
1marginal/little responsibilityWorked under direction of others, showed little or no initiative.
“Well, at least I helped.”
2average responsibilityFollow the lead of others, showing some initiative.
“I didn't really know what I was doing, but I could follow instructions well and helped everywhere I could.”
3substantive responsibilityShared major responsibility; showed substantive initiative, but also worked under some direction/instruction by teammates; took overall responsibility for a sub-team.
“We all carried the burden.”
4major/full responsibilityClaim full and major responsibility with full support of the rest of the team; showed great initiative, worked collaboratively but under only little or no direction/instruction from teammates.
“I owned it.”

The WDF Score column represents the weighted, normalized total responsibility you have claimed with respect to the rest of your team. Therefore, the lower your WDF Score, the lower your mark will be.

NOTE: Only integer values are allowed. Non-integer values will be truncated.

Reflect on your contributions often

To be able to properly assess your own level of responsibility on the project, you need to reflect on your contributions, the quality of the work you put into the project, the degree of initiative you showed, and how much of the work you did will actually appear in the report.

At least once a week - and preferably every day or two - you should spend a few minutes thinking about the work you did on the project, with respect to how responsible you need to claim, as described above. We urge you to make some notes about this reflection - even if it's only a sentence or two - in your design journal; that way, when you have to fill in the WDF for the end of the project, you can use your notes to remind yourself of the nature of your contributions and more accurately assess your responsibility for each project element.

At each milestone

For each milestone, you need to fill in one tab of the WDF. Do not rush this exercise; if you do this poorly, you may completely skew the project grades in your team.

Dedicate at least 15 minutes with your team to carefully work out the content of the WDF.

Dealing with blank WDF rows

If there are, say, only 5 members in your team, you must delete the extra row. Do not report zeros for the “extra” student.

If your team loses a member mid-semester, report this to your TAGA and your instructor. We will make sure the WDF is accurate.

All team members must “sign” their row, but all signatures must be added only after all rows have been completed.

Google Sheets tracks all revisions, so the instructors will be able to verify that the WDFs were properly prepared. Signing a document on behalf of another student is considered Academic Misconduct.

Fill in only the WHITE cells in each tab of the WDF. The greyed out cells are NOT to be altered in any way.

There is a blue cell at the top right of the Milestone 1 and Milestone 2 tabs of the WDF. This cell is where your TA will enter the grade for each milestone. The spreadsheet will then modify the grade automatically based on WDF Score to produce an individual grade for each team member.

Each tab is meant to capture the work done since the previous milestone.

How does the WDF affect Milestone grades?

Each Milestone tab has a column labelled WDF Score. This is a normalized grade (out of 4) for the entire milestone, and relative to the rest of your team. You can make a copy of a sample WDF sheet to play with the numbers and see the kind of impact resulting from changes in the milestone grades and the responsibility measures.

Your TA will grade your Milestone, which generates an overall grade. Your TA will put the grade of the Milestone into the blue cell. The sheet will automatically calculate your individual grade from that.

At the end of the semester

Make sure you leave sufficient time to complete and “sign” your row in your team's WDF before the project submission deadline.

For each element, write your level of responsibility as described above in the corresponding cell of your row of the WDF.

NOTE: The FINAL tab allows you to gauge every element of the project. This is so you can capture revisions you did to older parts of the project.


Say for Milestone 1, your team had many vaguely defined requirements, which you corrected between Milestone 1 and the Final Report. The FINAL tab of the WDF is where you would capture the responsibility associated with all those corrections.

There is a sample WDF spreadsheet you can copy and play with to see the impact of changes on the outcomes.

Make sure you type your name into the Google Spreadsheet under signature in the WDF. This will count as your electronic signature agreeing to all the content of the WDF.

Failure to meet these requirements will result deductions and penalties.

Important Notes

It is not necessary that everyone work hard on every component. Different teams will split the work in different ways. Be fair and honest. We have ways of verifying your contributions.

All else being equal, the TOTAL of all the responsibility of each team member should be roughly equal to that of the other members of the team.

Not “signing” the WDF means you disagree with the WDF on the whole. No team member will receive a project grade until that team as a whole meets with me to resolve the difficulties.

Only egregious team problems will be considered grounds for accommodation in grading. You have to learn to work even with people you don't necessarily like.

design/project_workload_distribution_form.txt · Last modified: 2021.10.06 18:03 by Fil Salustri