GROUP WORK - Cleveland State University

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GROUP WORK
Gen Ed Skill Area
Elizabeth A. Lehfeldt
Cleveland State University
Why do group work?
Student assessment indicates that
students learn and retain information
better
Students report greater satisfaction in
courses where group work is assigned
Skills valued by employers
Types of group work
Ad-hoc temporary clusterings of students
Formal groups with a longer-term
project to complete
Study groups
Faculty and group work
Designing assignments
Assessing group work
Willing to sacrifice efficiency and control to
other goals
Reassurances
Bad experiences with groups
How your class will be different
Clear assignments, tasks, and grading
Rationale for group work
Why are you doing it?
What is the assignment?
Some direction about tasks, division of labor
What are you looking for in the finished
project?
Rationale for group work
How group work will be assessed
How groups will be monitored
What is the time commitment for groups
How to handle problems that arise
Creating effective groups
 When to form
 Size matters
4-5 is ideal, especially if students don’t have lots of
practice with group work
 Composition
Random
Carefully orchestrated
Some room for student preference?
Shared criteria
 Meeting times
Effective assignments
 Complex enough to warrant group work
For inexperienced it may help to identify roles
 Motivating enough to invite engagement
Links to objectives of the course
Involving presentation to class or even outsiders?
Problem-solving
Client-based
Effective assignments
 Class time for group work
 Teach skills of group work
http://www.ou.edu/pii/teamlearning/video.htm
Fiechtner, S. B., and Davis, E. A. "Why Some Groups
Fail: A Survey of Students' Experiences with Learning
Groups." In A. Goodsell, M. Maher, V. Tinto, and
Associates (eds.), Collaborative Learning: A Sourcebook
for Higher Education.
http://dhc.ucdavis.edu/vohs/sec04-1.html
Facilitate student interaction
 Early opportunities that serve as icebreakers
 Pair or group students in the first week
 Ask students to identify components of
successful discussion and group work; set
norms
http://www.iml.uts.edu.au/learnteach/groupwork/unit4.ht
ml
Sample assignments
 Structured controversy: Groups of four explore
controversial topic. Students work in pairs. Each
pair takes a different side of the issue. The
groups of four meet, and each pair takes a turn
stating and arguing its position Next, each pair
must reverse its position and argue the opposite
position than the one it argued before. Lastly the
group of four as a whole discusses and
synthesizes all the positions to come up with a
group report. There may be a class presentation
where each group presents its findings.
Sample assignments
 History: Write a “medieval newspaper”
Students conduct their research independently and use
group meetings to share information, edit articles,
proofread, and design the pages.
 Science, engineering: Report on alternative
energy sources.
Each member of the group is responsible for research
on one source, and then all the members work together
to incorporate the individual contributions into the final
report.
Assessing group work
Process, product, or both?
Who will assess: instructor, students, or
both?
Group marks, individual marks, or both?
Samples
Assessing group work
 Example: A group of six students undertakes a
six-week research project on the geomorphology
of a particular region. They will produce a final
group report, for which they will receive a group
mark. In addition students will be assessed
individually: they are required to submit a
research diary recording their progress, relevant
diagrams and printouts and findings at weekly
intervals throughout the six weeks.
Troubleshooting group work
You are available for discussion
Peer assessment will be part of the
process
Equip students to troubleshoot their own
problems
http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/processes/gr
oup/list8.cfm

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