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Small Group Teaching in Higher Education

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A 3 hour session for the PCTHE at Oxford Brookes University

A 3 hour session for the PCTHE at Oxford Brookes University

Published in: Education

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  • 1. Small groups 20 March November 2009 George Roberts Directorate of Human Resources
  • 2. Introduction
    • Do you teach (or have you ever taught) small groups?
    • Identify small-group teaching situations
  • 3. Feedback
    • Small group teaching situations include:
  • 4. Feedback
    • Small group teaching situations include:
    • 75 => 15 => pairs
    • on the wards
    • practicals
    • role play
    • field work
    • aggregate/disaggregate
    • seminars
  • 5. Activity
    • In pairs for about 3 minutes
    • What are the most rewarding features of small group teaching?
  • 6. Feedback
    • Rewards of small-group teaching include:
  • 7. Feedback
    • Rewards of small-group teaching include:
    • students can take risk
    • involvement
    • immediate feedback
    • levelling of relationship/informality
    • students can be responsible/no hiding
    • opportunity for f2f interaction, everyone has a voice
    • diagnostic
    • equal opportunity to have a go
    • space to think and give an opinion, explore own thinking and ideas
    • get to know students better
    • motivation, works two ways
    • encouragement can build confidence
    • co-construction of group knowledge & identity
    • student-centred/led learning
  • 8. Small Group Structures
  • 9. Rounds
    • Encourages everybody to contribute
    • Circle
    • Trigger sentence
    • ‘ a question I would like answered today is … ‘
    • each person takes it in turn to offer a short comment
  • 10. Buzz groups
  • 11. Circular interviewing
    • Each person takes it in turn to interview the person opposite them in the circle
    • The role of interviewer and interviewee is passed round the circle until everybody has had a turn at each role
    • ‘ what have you read ..’
  • 12. Fish Bowl
    • Members in the inner circle are involved in discussion /role-play/ group activity
    • Members on the outside have the role of observer
  • 13. Other Small Group Structures
    • How else can you organise small groups?
  • 14. Activity
    • double pairs (= 4) for about 3 minutes
    • What are the environments in which small group teaching takes place?
    • How do time scales affect small group work?
  • 15. Feedback
    • What are the environments for small group teaching?
  • 16. Feedback
    • What are the environments and time scales for small group teaching?
    • seminar
    • lecture theatre
    • online
    • small room with moveable furniture
    • construction site
    • breakout rooms
    • canteens
    • work sites
    • laboratories
    • art room
    • Barcelona
    • office
    • book shops
    • malls
    • library
    • reinvention centre/ASKE building
    • conference centre
  • 17. Feedback
    • How do time scales affect small group work?
  • 18. Feedback
    • How do time scales affect small group work?
    • initial awkwardness, students need clear briefs
    • time needs to be managed
    • staff schedules may constrain small group activity
    • tasks might go from 2 min to 30 min
      • or over a semester!
      • or as long as it takes
    • different groups work at different speeds
    • time it takes depends on the aim/outcome intended
    • needs time built in for sharing/feedback/hearing others
    • groups may persist longer than the tasks they do
  • 19. Activity
    • Back in your fours for about 3 minutes
    • What were the differences between pairs and fours?
  • 20. Feedback
    • Differences between pairs and fours include:
  • 21. Feedback
    • Differences between pairs and fours include:
    • pairs reinforce ideas, larger groups get diversity of ideas
    • allocate roles
    • in fours people can hide, pairs force interaction
    • bigger group more hiding possibilitie
    • roles emerge, leader, spokesperson, domination and submission
    • group dynamic becomes foregrounded: teachers need to know when students need help with role emergence
    • role differentiation becomes important
    • bigger group may force consensus; can this be damaging?
    • sub-groups emerge
  • 22. With thanks to http://www.sweetmarias.com/articles.shtml
  • 23. Groups
    • A gathering of people is a group
    • when its members are collectively conscious of their existence as a group;
    • when they believe it satisfies their needs;
    • when they share aims, are interdependent, like to join in group activities, and want to remain with the group.
    • Though groups occur in many forms and sizes, there seems to be a set of characteristics fairly common to them all.
    • From: Small group teaching by David Jaques http://www.brookes.ac.uk/services/ocsd/2_learntch/small-group/index.html
  • 24. Characteristics of groups
    • A definable membership
    • Group consciousness
    • A sense of shared purpose
    • Interdependence
    • Interaction
    • Ability to work as a single unit
    • John Adair 1989 ‘ Effective team building ’ London, Gower
  • 25. Roles
    • Task-based roles
    • Personal attributes, styles and preferences
  • 26. Group (team) roles
    • “ A tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way” (Belbin)
      • Everybody has a preferred role
      • People are likely to take on more than one role
      • team roles are not personality types; they are clusters of characteristics,
    • Role orientation
      • Action
        • shaper, implementer, completer finisher
      • People
        • chair/co-ordinator, teamworker, resource investigator
      • Cerebral
        • plant, monitor/evaluator, specialist
    • General group roles
      • Group building & maintenance
      • Group task
  • 27. Belbin: Team Roles
    • Plant
    • Resource Investigator
    • Co-ordinator
    • Shaper
    • Monitor-Evaluator
    • Teamworker
    • Implementer
    • Completer-Finisher
    • Specialist
  • 28. Good education practice
    • encourage student-tutor contact
    • encourage student-student co-operation
    • encourage active learning
    • give prompt feedback
    • emphasise time on task
    • have and communicate high expectations
    • respect diverse talents and ways of learning
    • (Chickering & Gamson, 1987)
    • independent of the mode of engagement
  • 29. Activity
    • Self organise
    • Four groups
      • As near as possible along discipline lines
      • Identify the common features of your disciplinarity
  • 30. Feedback
    • Identify groups and common features
  • 31. Feedback
    • Identify groups and common features
    • Odds & sods: Business & technology, arts, professional
      • common features
        • skills as well as theory
        • applied theory
    • Humanities
      • text based subjects
      • not factual but negotiable
      • study social relationships past present and future
      • ability to detach oneself from the field of study
    • Science, the ‘ologists’
    • quantification and measurement
      • theory-based / evidence-based
      • falsifiable
      • predictive
      • critical thinking
  • 32. Activity (simulation)
    • In your groups develop a short group learning activity
    • relevant to your discipline
    • prepare a presentation of this activity using the flip chart paper
  • 33.  
  • 34. Design for Learning Background reading Individual task Group task Plenary Follow through
  • 35. Design for Learning (distribute) background reading Individual task: write one sample examination question and explain why this is a good question. Post to discussion area Plenary: presentation by groups Follow through: collate and distribute all questions & criteria Framing: final examination will be composed of your questions Group task Evaluate Critique on discussion board Compile sample examination paper and post Produce assessment criteria For n Groups
  • 36.  
  • 37. Activity
    • Form groups
    • In groups
      • Identify topic
      • Write objective(s)
      • Plan session
    • Plenary
      • Present
      • Debrief
    Plan Brief overall Brief groups Group work Objectives
    • Identify topic
    • Determine approach
    • Inductive
    • Deductive
    • Kolb position
    Present Debrief
  • 38. Aims of your session
    • Agree your activity
    • then
    • Using circular interview technique to ensure each person contributes
    • Identify the aims of your session
  • 39. Activity (simulation)
    • In your groups develop a short group learning activity
    • relevant to your discipline
    • prepare a presentation of this activity using the flip chart paper
    • 20 minutes
  • 40. Feedback
    • Group presentations of outputs
    • key points
  • 41. Why work in a group?
  • 42. Summarising
  • 43.
    • “ How do I know until I hear myself say it?”
    • “ Academic knowledge is articulated knowledge”
    • Laurillard, D. (2002). Rethinking University Teaching - a conversational framework for the effective use of educational technology . London, RoutledgeFarmer.
  • 44.
    • “ Constructivism has at its heart the view that individual students construct or build their own knowledge and understanding rather than simply acquiring it pre-packaged and ready-made. The knowledge that they build will depend on several factors including what they are formally taught…the culture of their discipline”
    • Phillips, D.C. (2000) Constructivism in Education The National Society for the Study of Education, Chicago
  • 45. Factors to consider
    • Group size
    • Preparing learners
    • Structure of groups & communication patterns
    • Learning environment
  • 46. Ground rules
    • Implicit ground rules in every social situation
    • Individuals will come with their own assumptions
    • Make ground rules explicit for group
    • Rules will help the group to be effective & reduce conflict
    Rules!
  • 47. Terms of reference
    • What is the purpose to the group?
    • What are the expected outcomes from the group?
    • Is the group work assessed? How? Criteria?
    • What are the main components of the project?
    • What are the deadlines?
    • Are there any guidelines?
    • Are you suppose to do it on your own?
    • Do all group members share the same understanding of the above?
  • 48. Consider
    • Communication
    • Social
    • Decision making
    • Roles & responsibility
    • Time management
    • Task management
    • Managing group processes
    • Commitment
  • 49. Learning environment
    • Physical and virtual arrangements have a powerful effect on interaction
        • Lecturer is standing or sitting
        • Distance between lecturer and group
        • Position in a group is important:
        • Sitting nervous students opposite sympathetic tutor or encouraging peer
        • A dominating student can be quietened by being seated immediately next to the tutor (Griffths & Partington 1992)
  • 50. Effective groups
    • Contain a balanced range of members whose strengths complement each other
    • Are not small or too large
    • Members take time to form a ‘group’
    • Members are clear about their own role and that of others
    • Members understand and abide by a set of mutually agreed ground rules
    • Share out the tasks fairly
    • Are organised & self disciplined
    • Tackle problems within the group effectively
  • 51. Teacher Behaviours
    • Teachers’ style and approach influences the approach taken by the learner
    • Students taught by teachers with a Student Focussed approach characteristically take a deep approach to their learning - attempting to make sense of the content of their course (Sheppard and Gilbert, 1991).
  • 52. Thank you