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
September 28, 2010
How does Team-Based Learning differ from “group work?”
Team-based Learning (TBL) differs from group work in that TBL structures the activities and provides mechanisms for addressing group dynamics. In contrast, much group work entails assigning students to groups or allowing them to self-select into groups and work out dynamics on their own, often with mixed results.
Team-based learning includes the following four components:
Team-based learning strategies can be implemented in large lectures (even in rooms with fixed seating) as well as in smaller classes.
Create diverse teams to distributed attributes associated with student characteristics across the teams. Collect information about the characteristics of students enrolled in the class and assign team membership to ensure that each team include a variety of majors, years of experience as a student, athletes and non-athletes, men and women, racial and ethnic groups, and other characteristics. Diverse teams provide opportunities for students to learn about the unique strengths that students from different backgrounds contribute to work on a given task. Self-selected teams tend to be too homogeneous and undermine the goal of providing students with experiences working with students different from themselves. Student-formed teams frequently perform less well than instructor-created teams.
The readiness assurance component ensures that students are prepared to engage in team activities when these are scheduled. One example of a readiness assurance strategy is to require that students take a short quiz on material for the team activity at the beginning of class before they participate in the activity. After completing the quiz individually, students participate in groups to work on the quiz. Teams can appeal a question answer in writing but must provide a clear justification for their appeal based on citations of text-based evidence to support their argument.
Examples of application activities include:
One characteristic of these team-based activities is that all teams work on the same problem and report their decisions simultaneously. Some faculty will ask student teams to use clickers to report their choices, but other mechanisms can also be used.
Examples of peer evaluation criteria include:
View a 12-minute video that illustrates team-based learning in action (on the site).
Developed by Michael Sweet, University of Texas Austin.
The web site is a great resource for team-based learning strategies, including information on creating teams, grading team-based activities and assignments, pre-class preparation, ensuring students are prepared for team activities, peer evaluations, and application exercises.
Updated 03/26/13 cdw
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