Collaborative Learning

Hints for Better Learning Groups

Below is a checklist adapted from Bowen and Jackson (1985-6) of things groups can do to function better. If appropriate for your class, distribute to your students.

I. Before the group begins:

  • Expect to learn, to enjoy, and to discover.
  • Team up with people you don't know.

II. As the group begins:

  • Make a good first impression.
  • Build the team.
    • Do something that requires self-disclosure.
    • Take interpersonal risks to build trust.
    • Establish team goals as appropriate.
  • Start thinking about group processing.

III. While the group is in existence:

  • Work at increasing self-disclosure.
  • Work at giving good feedback.
  • Get silent members involved.
  • Confront problems.
    • Apply lessons from class work.
    • Work on issues in the group even if they appear at first to be just between two members.
    • Don't assume you can't work with someone just because you don't like or respect them.
    • If the group can't solve a problem, consult the instructor as a group.
  • Regularly review your data.
  • Vary the leadership style as needed.

IV. Wrapping up the group:

  • Summarize and review your learning from group experiences.
    • Analyze the data to discover why the group was more effective or less so.
    • Provide final feedback to members on their contribution.
  • Celebrate the group's accomplishments.

Bowen, D. D., and Jackson, C. N. (1985-6). "Curing those 'ol 'Omigod-Not-Another-Group-Class' blues". Organizational Behavior Teaching Review, 10(4), 21-23.

 Hari Srinivas -
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