In our small language department, we each teach a different foreign language (Chinese, French, German, and Spanish), but we share the core learning goal of
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
I teach a business writing course, and I used to dread assigning group projects. While I valued the lessons teamwork provided, those takeaways were often
Checking on whether my students in a recent class were understanding some thorny content, I did a quick survey and was heartened to receive engaged
There is abundant evidence that having students work in groups improves educational outcomes (R. E. Slavin, 1987; Springer, Donovan, and Stanne, 1999; R. Slavin, 1996;
With PhD in hand, I joined the academy without any real teaching training. As I sought to establish my teaching routine and define my teaching
The idea for sharing this post came from a session I recently conducted at the annual teaching conference organized by my university. A pedagogical conundrum was raised by a colleague whose enthusiasm and question stayed with me and inspired me to write this post. The question posed by this colleague is relevant to all instructors who have ever used group work to assess their students: How should one deal with the issues that arise when members of a group are not picking up their share of the responsibilities during a group work project?
What’s the best way to put students into groups? It’s the first task that confronts teachers who want students to work together. And the best reply is one of those “it depends” answers. Here are the questions on which it depends.
Should teachers let students form the groups? Students often prefer this approach. They tend to pick people they know, classmates who are friends, those in the same major, and those who share the same race. It’s more comfortable working with people who are known and similar. When groups are composed of friends, they sometimes struggle with the transition to a more professional relationship. They’re used to socializing, but now there are tasks to complete and that means functioning in different roles. If the group work is a project that requires extended collaboration and will benefit from a variety of opinions and perspectives, letting students form the groups may not be the best approach. On the other hand, for short, ad-hoc group work and for students who may be shy and not used to working with peers, knowing others in the group makes the experience less intimidating.