This week, an article by Meg Bernhard on designing group projects offers these very insightful tips. She writes,

Instructors widely accept the benefits of assigning group work. Teamwork gives students a chance to hear multiple perspectives, and it can mirror real-world jobs, which employers like.

 

But recent research shows that if groups and assignments are structured hastily, they can be counterproductive.

Some of our takeaways from the article:

  • Intentionally constructing the group and understanding the learning tasks is necessary to reap the benefits.
  • Whenever possible, group composition should make sure there are no lone, marginalized students. Women in engineering groups or racial minority students who serve in groups as the “only” one often operate on the fringes of group projects due to stereotypes that shape the thinking of group members.
  • Set clear expectations for the kinds and quality of interactions that should ensue and assess them.
  • Particular disciplines lend themselves to group process more than others. Engineering, for example, requires more group-think than history, which usually entails individual research and analysis.