teaching

This page contains ideas for supporting students as they prepare group presentations and write reports of their group activity.

Allow your students to learn from the experience and findings of other groups by having them share the results of group work with the rest of the class. They can share through group oral presentations, poster presentations and group reports. If you use group writing, you can ask students to provide feedback on the reports of other groups, based on the specified marking criteria.

Students may need help managing group tasks and processes once their project or group activity is under way. This page provides tools to help students  develop action plans, set timelines, create job lists and wish lists, review team roles and leadership. A separate page deals with Structuring Discussion in group meetings.

This page discusses some alternatives to meeting as a complete group and having open discussions. Help your students recognise which structuring technique might be appropriate to move a group project or particular task forward.

Most groups experience issues at some time. Students need to be able to identify existing and potential issues, and work out what to do to resolve them and move on. Checklists such as the one below can help students identify problems, as well as helping them notice in what areas their group is functioning well.

You could ask students to submit this checklist to you periodically, so that you can monitor their progress and find out what types of issues groups are experiencing. You might like to look for common issues across groups, and then discuss them with the whole class.

Dealing with problems in groups involves more than just recognising a problem. Students need to feel comfortable discussing problems publicly and deciding on what they will do to resolve them.

Offering constructive feedback may come naturally to some students, but many have had no experience in this area. Provide some simple tips or a checklist on constructive feedback. This can help to avoid emotionally driven conflicts that can lead to significant problems. It can also improve students’ ability to deal with issues in groups.

Reflective listening is a communication skill by which students can increase their understanding of other people’s ideas, issues, approaches and concerns within the group. It's a particularly useful skill for avoiding conflict within a group.

The following handout may help students practise reflective listening skills during group work.

Student handout

Reflective listening

What is reflective listening?

Group work involves dealing with a series of challenges. Uncertainty is a normal part of the group work process. Make sure that your students are aware of these things from the beginning.

Prepare groups for uncertainty

Students find the challenges of group work tasks and projects more manageable if you've led them to expect some level of difficulty or uncertainty within their teams. Discuss the stages that emerging groups often go through. The following sample handout may be helpful.

This page will help you support students as they build their groups, establish group dynamics and face their first few challenges as groups.

Use ice breakers

Team building activities (ice breakers) help students acquaint themselves with the members of their group. They can deliver insights into some of the principles and processes involved in working with a group.

Team building activities often contain a reflective component, requiring students to think about how their group performed.

The above diagram, adapted from Kolb's Experiential Learning, indicates in quite a general way the skills needed for successful group work. To get students moving in this continual cycle of skills development, at first you need to encourage them to learn quite specific skills.

The following pages may be useful as you encourage your students to engage in group-related behaviour and activities:

Depending on the nature of the group activity or project, you should support your students in developing or establishing all or several of the following, if they are to work effectively as a team:

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