Groups need to be self-reflective about the working of their
- Have explicit discussions about these skills and how to improve
- Have the students write periodic journals on their group experience.
This enables them to reflect on what is working well or poorly and
it also provides feedback to the instructor on the performance of
- Instructors should model all these skills in every interaction
with students. This is very important because students are watching
you closely and will take many of their behavioral cues from what
you do and not what you say they should do!
- Ask each group to list at least three actions that helped
the group be successful.
- Ask group to list one action that would have made the group
even more successful.
- Make regular assessments of group dynamics. The group members
are asked to self-assess how well the group is functioning. The instructor
can also assess the working of the group.
- Get the group to agree right at the beginning to working rules
amongst themselves as to how work is to be divided, performed, shared,
reported, and written.
- Ensure that group processing times do not degenerate into
gripe sessions where some members simply vent their irritations with
others. This can be done by groups establishing ground rules that
criticisms should not be phrased negatively but as positive suggestions.
i.e., in the form of statements such as "Perhaps you might try
doing it this way" instead of ‘"I wish you'd stop
Getting group processing started
In order to start the process of group processing and to increase
the awareness of students of the importance of taking early steps
to ensure good interactions, it is advisable for each group to have a private meeting with the instructor (lasting about 10-15 minutes) within a
week or so after the groups are formed. Prior to this meeting, each member should also
have read the guidelines
for effective group work and have met and prepared typed consensus responses of the group to the following questions:
- Based on your past experiences with group work, what do you think
are the factors that lead to the successful functioning of a group?
- How would you ensure that the conditions stated in response to
question 1 are present in your current group?
- Make a list of the things that an individual in a group should
do in order that the group can work harmoniously and productively.
You will be expected to use this list when evaluating (as a group)
the contributions of each member to the group.
- How would you deal with a group member who is behaving in a manner
not beneficial to the smooth working of the group (i.e., by not
attending group meetings, by being hostile to one or more members,
by not doing their share of the work, not showing responsibility,