March 26, 2013
Improve group dynamics by clarifying and assigning roles to group members
Instructors can improve dynamics in small groups by facilitating a discussion to clarify norms for effective group work before they create groups. Assign each group member a specific role for the group activity. This preparation enables students to avoid typical pitfalls of small group work such as uneven participation and difficulty keeping members on task.
Before Groups Begin Working
Facilitate a class discussion of group work norms. The discussion should include the following topics:
Introduce and explain group roles. The instructor can tweak assigned roles to fit their needs for the activity planned.
Randomly assign students to groups and roles in the group. You can distribute cards from a deck of playing cards (use multiple decks for large classes). Assign students to groups of 4 by the type of card they receive (aces of all suits will be in one group). Assign roles in the group by the suit of the card (e.g., the person holding the card with hearts will take the role of scribe).
Roles for a project include:
Roles for a discussion include:
Other group roles:
Get feedback from the students as to how the process went – either through discussion, anonymous written feedback or some combination of methods.
Adapted from Elizabeth Cohen’s Designing Groupwork: Strategies for the Heterogeneous Classroom.
A description of functions carried out by each role can be found at Starting Point: Teaching Entry Level Geoscience (Carleton College).
This tip is based on a teaching strategy submitted to the Teaching Issues Writing Consortium by Erin Hill, Ph. D., Karen Rosenberg, Writing Center Director, and Dr. Robin Angotti, Associate Professor of Education, University of Washington Bothell (www.uwb.edu/writingcenter).
WKU Writer’s Consortium
October 16, 2012
Promote active learning and critical thinking skills in STEM by teaching with case studies
Schools of medicine, law and business have a long tradition of assigning cases to help students learn critical concepts and apply them to real-world applications.
Cases can be used to structure class discussion of critical issues or they can be assigned as projects for small group structured learning activities (team learning, problem-based learning, and other types of collaborative learning). A well-written case study will introduce students to essential disciplinary content and concepts. Case studies require students to use disciplinary thinking skills to analyze and propose effective solutions to real-world problems. Thus, students get practice using critical thinking skills on problems that connect course content to important issues and problems they may encounter in current news.
If you are new to using case studies and unsure about how to write a good case study or structure a learning activity based on case studies, you can find an outstanding collection of peer-reviewed cases on the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (NCCSTS) web site (sponsored by the National Science Foundation). Case materials include the case handout (materials students receive when they begin the case study assignment), teaching notes (background material, suggestions for classroom management, discussion of critical learning outcomes for the case, and scholarly references), and an answer key or rubric to help instructors evaluate student work.
The NCCSTS collection includes analysis cases, dilemma/decision cases, cases that include discussions guided through clicker questions, cases for laboratory work, cases designed specifically for problem-based learning, guided discussions, debates, mock trials, jig-saw group learning activities, and role-play activities.
All cases archived on the NCCSTS site are peer reviewed. Faculty at UWF who develop their own case materials might consider submitting their work to NCCSTS as a component of their scholarship of teaching.
Visit the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science and search their collection peer-reviewed cases:
http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/collection/ (Link is inactive)
The data base is searchable by keyword, STEM discipline (identified as subject heading in the search engine menus), educational level (lower-division undergraduate, upper-division undergraduate, graduate, professional school, etc.), type of case, or topic area (ethics, scientific method, pseudoscience, social issues, legal issues, etc.).
Look under the Teaching Resources section to find publications, including downloadable PDF files with guidelines for writing and using case studies in teaching.
January 18, 2011
Create activities that develop team skills and enable students to work effectively in groups
Students will work more effectively in groups on a major project if you provide them with explicit training on how to manage group dynamics and interpersonal interaction. If course learning outcomes include project management outcomes such as working effectively with colleagues, then include activities in the class that will teach these skills. An effective instructional activity for group interaction will
Strategies for structuring and guiding group processes
This tip was based on a submission by Barbara Millis, Teaching and Learning Center, University of Texas at San Antonio.
Portions of this tip were based on Walvoord, B. E., & Anderson, V. J. (2010). Effective grading: A tool for learning and assessment in college (2nd ed). Jossey-Bass and circulated as a teaching tip by TOMORROW'S PROFESSOR(sm) eMAIL NEWSLETTER http://cgi.stanford.edu/~dept-ctl/cgi-bin/tomprof/postings.php.
March 25, 2008
Use collaborative learning activities as class assignments that are later shared in class. For example, Dr. Jay Gould (Psychology) uses the following active-learning exercise in Experimental Psychology (EXP 3082): After reading about research ethics and discussing this topic in class, students are required to work in pairs to prepare a “Code of Ethics for Psychology Researchers.“ The printed codes of ethics are then posted in the hallway (without names) for all students in the class to review and then vote on the best one other than their own. Extra credit is given to the three pairs of students whose codes of ethics receive the greatest number of votes.
Thanks to Jay Gould (Psychology), the University of West Florida, for this contribution.
October 2, 2007
Create small groups for class-related projects. Group work promotes social networking. Reorganize the groups from time to time to increase the number of contacts between students. Don’t have formal projects in your class? Create small groups for a think-pair-share activity related to class content. Pose a question, allow time for students to think and develop an individual response, pair the students (or create groups of no more than 4 students) to discuss their responses, and have a spokesperson from the groups share their discussion with the class. This is an effective method for active discussion of course content that requires only about 15 minutes of class time.
Updated 03/26/13 cdw
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