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Setting up for success
Once you have considered how you will effectively plan group work into your course, the following tips will help to ensure that it is implemented successfully.
Tips for successfully implementing group work
- Set the right tone. Students at first may be apprehensive about group work so it is important to set the right tone from the beginning. Since team skills are needed in any discipline, relating the group project to their future careers can be beneficial, such as discussing together important team skills needed for their future success and reviewing recent job descriptions in which these skills are identified.
Discussing their concerns upfront is also advisable. What does a good team look like? What are some problems they have experienced in teams? What have been your personal experiences? Having an open discussion and brainstorming together how to ensure the group work is positive sets the stage for strong communication, collaboration, and planning.
- Setting expectations – the use of a team charter. Clear and agreed upon expectations upfront helps to ensure group success. Unequal distribution of work, poor communication, and interpersonal conflicts are common causes of team strife. Research supports having the teams develop a team charter that outlines expectations for them working effectively as a team and lays the ground rules that they will follow. Consider having the team charter be a marked assignment so that students take it seriously and invest the time in discussing important issues up front. See Appendix C for an effective team charter example used in the School of Business at Camosun College as well as the tips for developing team charters in the Additional Resources for Fostering Team Skills section.
- Allocating class time. Allocating class time to work on the group project, ideally each week, allows the groups to meet at a convenient time and for you to monitor their progress and provide guidance as needed.
- Transparent Assessment. It is important that students know how they will be assessed ahead of time. Research also recommends that the assessment tool, such as a rubric, be developed with student input so that they are not only aware of how they will be assessed but are actively involved in it as part of their active learning. See the section on Tips for Group Assessment.
- Consider the use of supportive technology. D2L, Blackboard Collaborate and Microsoft Teams are all Camosun supported technology that can help assist in the formation, development, and success of teams. Check out the eLearning resources and support.