Preparing Students for Group Work 2015

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University College of the North
Academic Development
Autumn 2015
Preparing Students for Group Work
Working in groups is quite different than
working individually. One of the main reasons
why students find it difficult is that they were
not trained to perform effectively in a team
setting. An instructor can help by teaching
organizational, personal, and discussion skills
that will help students manage group
dynamics and have a positive teamwork
experience.
Considering group dynamics: If time permits, it is often a good
idea to help students in your class become familiar with each
other. In most instances, the students in your class will not know
each other very well (if at all). In a week or two, they will be
expected to begin working together as a group. It is therefore
important that you encourage and foster member familiarity before
group formation.
Before group work: For students to operate effectively in groups,
preparation is essential. Students should not be expected to be
"team ready" just because they have been working in groups
before. Each group experience is new and students need to cover
the basics. For example, students need to know:
 What sort of group work will be conducted in this
subject?
 Why is group work needed in the subject?
 Who will be their fellow group members and why?
 What specific skills will be developed through their
participation in group work?
Preparing Students: Students should have an outline with a section containing all the information needed to prepare for
group work. This section should include statements concerning:
 the "basic" rationale for group work in the subject,
 what the group assignment will involve (e.g. what the deliverables are),
 the learning outcomes of group work (e.g. what knowledge, skills, attitudes/values),
 how members will be selected into groups and why,
 how group work will be assessed and why,
 how groups will be monitored to ensure equal participation by all members,
 how often (and for how long) should group members be meeting to work on their assignment (e.g. approximately
three hours per week),
 what are the potential risks that students may face by working in a group (e.g. loafing, dominating members,
conflict, absenteeism) and what efforts will be made to manage these risks if they arise.
This tip sheet is distributed on behalf of the Academic Specialist. For additional information or other tips related to teaching at
UCN, contact: Connie Wyatt Anderson
[email protected]
or 204-627-8539
References
University of Technology Sydney. (n.d.) Preparing students for group work. Retrieved from
http://www.uts.edu.au/node/1161/preparing-students-group-work
University of Waterloo. (n.d.) Meeting strategies to help students prepare students for group work. Retrieved from
https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/alternatives-lecturing/group-work/meetingstrategies-help-prepare-students-group-work
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