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What can I do to make group work meaningful?

The ability to work well in groups is one of the most important skills we can teach students, regardless of discipline. Ideally, group work draws on the discovery that comes from deliberation and the wisdom of collective experience. But assigning just a sufficient amount of work to a group doesn't mean that the students will work together. All too often, groups divide the task and meet only long enough to patch their pieces together. As an instructor, you are responsible for creating tasks and facilitating an environment that encourages, or necessitates, authentic co-operation.

(NOTE: The below links will open in a new browser tab or window)


Complex enough

Designing Successful Group Projects
TEPs own Collaborative Research guide to designing group assignments that reflect the larger class goals and incorporate student input.


Explain how your groups will be different

Common student concerns about group work
From the Colorado State group-work guide for students.


Part of class

Short In- Class Activities for Collaborative Learning
While this site is designed for science instructors many of the activities/ strategies suggested are applicable to other disciplines.  The site offers guidelines for selecting and organizing groups, as well as many collaborative learning structures (activities). Also has testimonials and suggestions from teachers who've used these strategies.


Team building skills

Team-Based Learning
Team-based learning website from the Team Based Learning Collaborative that offers resources about TBL (team-based learning), such as video testimonials from students and faculty.