Sherry St. Clair
Creating Effective Groups
Updated: Sep 28, 2018
Group work can help students develop valuable skills such as communication, teamwork, management skills and responsibility for their own learning but if not implemented properly, group work can be chaotic and lead to disengagement. Here are some tips that might help plan effective groups.
1. Consider the Group’s Size
When groups are too large, you can almost guarantee some students will be disengaged. Groups of four or less typically work best for most classroom learning experiences.
2. Ensure Every Student Has a Responsibility
Group roles can help students take responsibility of their own learning. Teachers may assign a variety of responsibilities. A Group Leader/Manager can lead the group and help manage their engagement. A Recorder can keep records of what the group accomplishes each day. A Questioner can find the answers of any questions the group may encounter. A Researcher may look information up online and/or in other resource materials. These are just some of the possible roles. What’s important is everyone has a role and a reason to stay engaged!
3. Set Up Group Protocols
Students should have a clear understanding of group rules and each member’s roles and responsibilities. These rules and responsibilities should be discussed before group work begins and then quickly reviewed by the group each day to help set the tone for learning. See a sample of Group Rules here.
4. Promote Reflection
At the end of each class, give students an opportunity to assess their own effort and the effort of their group members. Then see if their assessment matches your assessment of the group. Discuss the similarities and differences of these assessments so you can coach students how to perform their roles more effectively.