Report #3 FIPP Activity Report Funded by the Basic Skills Initiative Name Juli Soden Date 12/17/09 FIPP Partner Dr. Chris Gold Section #2666 Activity /Strategy Group Contract Category Classroom Expectations Briefly describe the activity/strategy. 1. Introduction The purpose of the Group Contract is to help groups work more effectively by managing everyone's expectations and tracking performance. By far, the most common problems I've seen with student groups stem from a lack of explicitness in roles, responsibilities, and communication. A Group Contract will help students develop group cohesiveness and prevent conflict by discussing each group member's expectations. It is also a resource for problemsolving in the event that conflict does arise. Each group member must sign the contract. Groups must turn in a copy of their signed contract. Each student should keep a copy of the signed contract. I used the group contract for our learning styles group project. Before groups began working on the project, I instructed each group to come up with rules for their group. I explained that their group rules/contract should address the following: How will you work to create a positive group experience? How will you avoid the pitfalls of "problem groups" from your past? What are your group goals? What rules do you want to create for how the group will operate? How will communication be maintained among group members? For example, how often will you meet? Where will you meet? How do you plan to share the work for and contribute to the assignment, e.g., what will be the responsibilities of various team members? How will you deal with conflicts and/or problems that may emerge in your group? How will you determine if or when the instructor should be consulted if the group is having problems? Include any other points needed to ensure that you start off on the right foot. It is important to discuss the group's expectations and the consequences of not participating or being involved in the group process. Group contracts can address this effectively. 2. Set up & Supplies A group assignment. 3. Directions : Explain the purpose of creating group rules. Ask groups to create their ground rules for how they will work together to complete the assigned project. 4. Conclusion Groups then create and sign a contract agreeing to their group rules. What worked well? Having groups establish ground rules for the project helped the class get started on the assignment. Establishing ground rules co-operatively within groups encouraged them to consider each rule's purpose. I think it gave them a greater sense of investment in abiding by the rules. It helped them create a positive work environment and attitude toward the group project. What would you change? I will leave a little more time for groups to discuss and create group rules. Would you use the activity/strategy again? Why or why not? Yes. It is a helpful tool for groups to use to maintain respectful and productive progress on an assignment. The contract also helped them work through difficult issues together when conflict occurred. Please describe any student learning outcomes/changes that you observed after the implementation of the activity/strategy. I observed a greater sense of commitment to the project. Students held each other accountable to the group rules. The time spent developing the contract fostered commitment and engagement in the group activity. Students were more focused on the assignment.