The Association of American Colleges and Universities have identified group work as a high impact educational practice. “Collaborative learning combines two key goals: learning to work and solve problems in the company of others and sharpening one’s own understanding by listening seriously to the insights of others, especially those with different backgrounds and life experiences” (Kuh, 2008).
The National Survey on Student Engagement (NSSE) identified Active and Collaborative Learning as one five benchmarks of Effective Educational Practice. The 2009 report explains, “Students learn more when they are intensely involved in their education and are asked to think about and apply what they are learning in different settings. Collaborating with others in solving problems or mastering difficult material prepares students to deal with the messy, unscripted problems they will encounter daily, both during and after college” (NSSE, 2009).
This following document has been developed to help Ryerson instructors integrate project management techniques into their group work assignments. These methods can help instructors design projects that encourage collaboration rather than conflict, and help students understand and define their roles in a group. It also includes sample work breakdown structures, group charters, and rubrics that can be applied to the assessment of group work.
Using Project Management Concepts in the Facilitation of Group Work [pdf]
Assisting students in working on group projects can be one of the most challenging aspects of our work as instructors. When groups work, they are a wonderful experience for both students and instructors, and have great applications to the real world. However, sometimes group work goes wrong. This handout reviews some best practices in forming groups, helping students learn to effectively organize and communicate, and handling conflicts between group members.
Group Work: Dealing with Conflict [pdf]
Group work can be put to many uses in the classroom. The following document reviews techniques for using case methods in combination with group work.
Case Method and Group Work [pdf]
Facilitating Group Work: Advice from the Teaching Chairs
View/Print Transcript [docx]
View/Print Transcript [pdf]
- Designing Effective Group Activities: Lessons for Classroom Teaching and Faculty Development [pdf]
By Larry K. Michaelsen, L. Dee Fink, and Arletta Knight. University of Oklahoma.
"The primary objective of this article is to provide readers with guidance for designing effective group assignments and activities for classes and workshops. In doing so, we examine the forces that foster social loafing (uneven participation) in learning groups and identify four key variables that must be managed in order to create a group environment that is conducive for broad-based member participation and learning. We then discuss the impact of various types of activities and assignments on learning and group cohesiveness. Finally, we present a checklist that has been designed to evaluate the effectiveness of group assignments in a wide variety of instructional settings and subject areas."
- Group Work: Getting Started
Adapted from Graham Gibbs, "Learning in Teams: A Student Manual." The Learning Commons. University of Guelph.
A good checklist for students that need help get off to a good start with group work.
- Study Group Guide for Professors and Teaching Assistants
Study Group Guide for Students
By Katie Caldwell. Department of Mathematics and Statistics. York University.
- Working in Groups: A Note to Faculty and a Quick Guide for Students
By Ellen Sarkisian. Derek Bok Center, Harvard University.
- Creating Team Projects that Work in Large Classes: Redesigning a Large Science Course [video]
By Dr. Leslie Reid. Teaching & Learning Centre. University of Calgary. 2008.
"Join Dr. Leslie Reid for her presentation "Creating Team Projects that Work in Large Classes: Redesigning a Large Science 'Service' Course." She talks about her experience in redesigning a large class (300 students with 13 weeks of lectures) into a format based on group projects (250 students with 6 weeks of lectures and 6 weeks of group work)."
- Group Interaction: Improving Academic Teaching [pdf]
ICE Factor 4. The Office of Instructional Development. Saint Mary's University.
The OID suggests explaining the purpose of the discussion, moving around the room in a way that will promote discussion, redirecting your students' questions, creating an appropriate physical setting, and giving student groups a formal structure.
- Problem Solving in Groups
Center for Instructional Development and Research Bulletin. Vol. 6(1). University of Washington. 2002.
"Working in groups can help students tackle challenging problems by stimulating creative thinking and higher-level reasoning strategies. It can also help promote long-term retention of course content (Johnson & Johnson, 2002). Student response to collaborative learning depends largely on how group work is used. Clear goals, organized groups, and explicit links to other components of the class all help contribute to effective learning in groups."
- Coping With Hitchhikers and Couch Potatoes on Teams
By Barbara Oakley, Tomorrow’s Professor Mailing List, Message 441.
Further Comments on Coping With Hitchhikers and Couch Potatoes on Teams
By Sean D. Hurley, Tomorrow’s Professor Mailing List, Message 451.
Center for Teaching and Learning. Stanford University.
- Facilitating Small Groups: Elements of a Teaching Plan [pdf]
Small Group Exercises Sample Formats
Center for Teaching and Learning. Stanford University.
- Team Progress Report [pdf]
Teamwork Assessment Rubric [pdf]
OpenCourseWare, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.