How do I deal with groups who are not functioning well together?
- There are several factors which impact how well students work together.
How groups are selected (randomly or strategically) can make a difference.
The amount of in-class time people have to work together (more is better)
will greatly influence group behavior. The design of the activity is important.
Poorly-designed activities feel like busy work and students resent that. If
instructions are unclear, students will waste valuable group time in a state
of confusion. For good information on group learning read Larry Michaelsen's
article "Team Learning: A Comprehensive Approach for Harnessing the Power
of Small Groups in Higher Education," To Improve the Academy, Vol.
- Meet with the group in your office. Find out how they have distributed their
work load and how they arrived at that distribution.
If you think it could have been done more equitably, discuss that. If you
feel the distribution was fair, then discuss each person's workload, and help
clarify the steps they need to take next to complete their assignment.
- Set aside some percentage of group project points for team-member evaluation,
in which students grade each other's participation.
Important: your peer evaluation form should let the students grade each
other's participation and grade how each of them allowed others to
participate (so a red hot student doesn't run away with the project.)