Working in Groups<br />This guide contains facilitator notes for the Working in Groups slides. <br />Prior to your presentation, make sure that you have download links available for:<br /><ul><li>The Student Handout
The Learning Commons Critical Thinking Study Toolkit
The Online Workshop Series Survey</li></ul>Some recommended links for this workshop are:<br /><ul><li>Assignment Calculator: http://learningcommons.ubc.ca/2010/ 11/assignment-calculator-2/
Study Toolkit: http://learningcommons.ubc.ca/get-started/study-toolkits/online-groupwork/</li></ul>Workshop Outline<br />Learning OutcomeActionPurposeTimePre-workshop Push the handout and poll the students about their background.Explain that the handout serves as a basis for taking notes during the presentation5 minIntroductionIntroduce yourself and the topicGives a clear statement of the purpose of the workshop.2 minOutcomesOutline the learning outcomes for the workshopProvide students with a clear idea of what to expect in the workshop2 minSelf-AnalysisPoll students about their personal opinion of group work.Identify and analyze group attitudes towards group work.4 minGroup Work DynamicsDefine characteristics of effective and ineffective groups and when group work is appropriate. Give students a clear set of criteria to evaluate groups in which they participate.7 minDiscussionAsk students to reflect on a situation in which they accomplished a project that would have been impossible on their own. Allows students to scaffold their previous experience and construct a framework of positive understanding.5 minDefusing Group ProblemsDescribe common problems and situations faced by group and present ways to defuse them.Gives students a clear set of problems so that they can recognize and address them in the future.6 minPromote Group ValuesList common values and ethics associated with group work.Encourages students to consider group values when interacting with other group members. 5 minDiscussionAsk students to reflect on past problems with group work dynamics and how they resolved them.Allows students to learn from one another building from their own common experience of group work dynamics6 minEstablishing a Group ProcessOutline a process of activities that should be undertaken when a new group is formed.Provides students with a list of action items that they can address upon group formation.6 minDiscussionAsk students to reflect on roles that they have played in groups and the sort of tools that they use to help them achieve their goal. Gives students an opportunity to discuss their own experience and bring in new tools or problems not previously considered.5 minPollAsk students to come up with two tools or ideas that they will take away from the workshop.Allows students to reconsider what has been covered in the workshop and to prioritize what works for them3 minExitShow the students the Learning Commons Study Toolkit pageProvides further resources for students2 min<br />Select the Working in Groups Slides<br />It is recommended that you log in to the Learning Commons classroom at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the workshop. When you first log in to the classroom, you will need to select the Group Work Slides from the Content dropdown menu. Once you have selected them, click on Go. <br />Workshop Series Title Slide<br />Use this slide to greet the students. Push the handout to them as a download link. If students are having technical troubles, please try to troubleshoot them early on. <br />About You Slide<br />Encourage students to share a little bit of their background with you. This helps to personalize the encounter and may help you see the breadth of experience in your classroom. This step should be completed prior to commencing archiving. <br />This is a good time to explain that student names are not attached to the polls.<br />Introduce the Lecture<br />After you switch to the title slide, remind students that the presentation will be archived. After you click on the Archiving button, wait for the Archiving announcement to complete. You will also notice that there are now two new listings in the participants representing the archive and encoder. You can ignore these.<br />Introduce the workshop for the benefit of the archive record. Remember that this will be the first slide seen by later viewers. <br />Facilitator Slide<br />Introduce yourself as the facilitator for the presentation. If you have some special insight or background, make sure to share it with the class.<br />Outline Learning Outcomes<br />Identify the learning outcomes for the workshop. This workshop is designed to outline the dynamics of group work and to provide a deeper understanding of the ethics involved. The second half of the presentation will outline possible pitfalls and and address strategies for addressing them.<br />This is a good opportunity to encourage participants to use the text chat to raise questions, seek clarification, or further discussion during the workshop. <br />Student Poll<br />Encourage students to reflect over their feelings about group work. The above quiz is designed to have them consider their attitude about group work so that they can see that there are others that may feel the same.<br />While participants are completing the survey, it may be a good idea to read these questions aloud. This will serve to share the content of the hidden poll slides with people viewing the archive copies and to ensure that there is no period of awkward silence while students are undertaking the activity. <br />Part 1: Group Work Dynamics<br />What are Group work dynamics?<br />We all have ideas about what makes a group work effectively or ineffectively. In this section, we'll briefly explore those ideas. <br />What Groups Do Well<br />Groups really allow us to extend our own individual skills. We all have great ideas, but sometimes it's when our ideas meet the minds of others that true creativity is introduced into a topic. We are inherently limited by our own knowledge and expertise and groups allow us to extend beyond these limitations. A well-functioning group will encompass diverse backgrounds and experiences from its various members. Groups can also function as a great support foundation for endeavours that we might not undertake on our own.<br />Types of Groups<br />There are different types of groups and over the course of our education we will likely participate in all three.<br />Informal learning groups: Ad hoc temporary clusterings within a single class session. Can be student initiated or instructor-appointed for a class period<br />Formal learning groups: Teams established to complete a specific task or perform a lab experiment, report. <br />Study Team: Long-term groups providing support, encouragement and assistance to member.<br />Effective Groups<br />The most successful groups have a number of qualities. <br />Chief among these is the appointment of a coordinator or leader. A leader need not be a permanent position and can even be circulated within the group on a regular basis to keep all members engaged. It is also just one possible position within the greater group dynamic. It is important that a coordinator is appointed so that he/she can direct the group towards defining goals for the group project. An effective group will maintain a work balance between the task (or what needs to be done) and the process (or how the group will fulfill the task). Everyone in the group needs to understand their tasks and how they will contribute to the overall group.<br />An effective group is composed of a range of individuals who contribute in their own different ways. This is a supportive and informal atmosphere that is open to new ideas. Group members should feel free to criticize and be comfortable with disagreement. <br />Ineffective Groups<br />Ineffective groups lack many of the characteristics of the effective group.<br />These groups often lack clear leadership structures. Indeed, the tend to be dominated by one or two members. Some members may be sidelined by part of the group and remain ineligible for roles within the group. Disagreements within the group will often be put to a vote with little to no discussion and this will leave some group members unhappy with overall decisions.<br />Other general characteristics of the ineffective group is that members talk more than they listen, some members will remain silent and rarely contribute, and there may be a general untrusting air and unwillingness to help other team members. Team members may devolve easily into arguing without being constructive. <br />Overall, ineffective groups lack a unified clarity of purpose regarding their goals.<br />When is group work wrong?<br />Group work may not be appropriate for all circumstances.<br />It is wrong to engage in group work when your instructor expects individual work. In these circumstances, make sure that your study group is not engaged in creating joint answers to problems. If your work is too similar to others, your professor may feel that you've engaged in cheating.<br />Signs that you are over-relying on group work are that you fail to understand projects on your own and are unable to accomplish assignments without the aid of the group. Remember that individual learning remains a key measure and if you're short changing yourself in this regard, then no amount of group work will help you further your educational goals.<br />Discussion<br />Ask students to name a time when group work helped them accomplish a project that would have been impossible on their own.<br />Part 2 Defusing Group Problems<br />Now that we know about the different kinds of group project and the general characteristics that define properly functioning groups, it's worth examining some of the problems that risk derailing your group. <br />Two Biggest Challenges<br />The two most commonly perceived challenges to effective groups are so-called free riders and crowded schedules. <br />Free riders are group members who let other group members advance project goals and only contribute the bare minimum. Free riders may not perceive themselves as such and they could be in their position because of poor communication in the group. It is important to try to address perceived free riders early on. It may be that they simply do not understand what is expected of them from the group. Rather than sidelining them further and undermine the group dynamic, try to give more responsibility to low-participating members. Maybe they just need some clear goals with defined completion schedules to help them contribute more fully to the group. <br />Crowded schedules are another source of stress for many groups. It is important to outline clear expectations about group meetings early on. Make use of online tools such as Doodle or Wiggio for scheduling. Try to outline how many meetings will be necessary for the project. It is also important to be flexible with group meeting expectations. Is it possible for some meetings to take place by phone or internet chat?If a member can't make a meeting in person, can then phone in? A Skype video call may give them the ability to be visually present during the meeting. <br />Analyse whether you are angry because the outlined process isn't being followed or whether actual tasks aren't getting done. If it's the former, can you be more flexible and understanding? We all get busy, so long as the group work advances, it may not be worth being angry at group members who don't attend every meeting.<br />Group Polarization<br />Sometimes a group can get caught in a position where disagreements are blown out of proportion through polarized group dynamics. Some signs that a group has become polarized are that:<br /><ul><li>One side is right, the other wrong
One side perceives itself as true while the other side is false.
One side proceeds morally, the other by means of force, fraud, deception, or manipulation.</li></ul>When arguments start taking on a black and white cast, it is necessary to employ aspects of critical thinking to explore where the true disagreement lies. <br />Groupthink<br />An opposite problem to group polarization is groupthink. Groupthink is a situation where groups come to think uniformly at the expense of critical thinking.<br />Some characteristics of groupthink are:<br /><ul><li>A strong view of us versus them
Rationalizations ten to shift responsibility for problems to people outside the group
An illusion of unanimity with silence of a group member taken as consent
Mindguarding or protecting the group from dissenting views</li></ul>Efforts should be made to invite external views as a check. Group leaders can try to avoid stating preferences until after discussion has already taken place. The group could also try to institute time at meetings for policy alternatives or to play the devil's advocate. <br />Road to Nowhere<br />Failure to communicate can have other unintended consequences. Groups can find themselves taking their projects in directions that none of the participants are really interested in. This is often the consequence of excessive compromise. It is important for group members to outline the directions they are willing to take at the start of a project. <br />Promote Group Values<br />Ethical group work means coming to terms with common group values. Some important values that should be considered at the start of group work include:<br />Justice: What is fair division of work across the group? Are all the members sharing equally in all the benefits and burdens of the work? Is work divided fair and impartially? How are group members going to be recompensed for extra work put on them through no fault of their own? How are members going to be punished fairly and impartially for failing to accomplish their work? <br />Responsibility: What are the responsibilities of group members? What is the responsibility of the group to support other group members? <br />Trust: The fundamental pillar of trust is the expectation of moral behaviour from others in the group. This pillar of trust extends to relying on other group members behaving in an acceptable manner that promotes group activities. It is important to outline how trust is gained and how trust can be repaired if it is broken by a member of the group.<br />Integrity: Do group values cohere? Do any conflict with one another? Can group justice undermine the friendship of group members? <br />Reasonableness: How will you defuse disagreement and resolve conflicts? Is the group open to new ideas? Is the group acknowledging of mistakes and misunderstandings? Is there an atmosphere of listening and responding thoughtfully to others? What will you do as a group to ensure that discussions debates and decisions will preserve the value of reasonableness?<br />Respect: Does the group recognize the capacity of autonomy in each individual group member? This may include honoring the rights of privacy, property, free speech, due process, and participation. What will you do to enshrine respect for group members? How will you respond when others fail to treat you with respect? <br />Play as a Team<br />The final core value of group work is team play. It can be tempting to completely compartmentalize group work and let each person stand alone. While in theory this may spur each group member to accomplish their individual work, many group members may have differing expectations over what constitutes good work. In extreme circumstances, a member of the group could even be caught cheating or plagiarizing. If this happens, it's important to remember that the entire group is liable for the work of the least member of the group. <br />This situation can be diffused by creating a supportive network where each group member is aware of the work of other members. Create a group structure where work is delivered to at least one other group member for evaluation. If possible, the entire team should meet to go over the final assignment before its due so that there's opportunity to reflect over group work and offer constructive feedback. <br />Reflective Exercise<br />Name a time when you were working in a group with a group dynamic problem. How did you resolve it? What group value would have helped you diffuse the situation before it got bad?<br />Part 3: Establishing a Group Process<br />Understanding pitfalls and considering positive group values is one way to avoid a negative group experience. It is also important to think of the processes that will help your group work effectively together. <br />Establishing ground rules<br />There are four components to establishing a group process. These include making ground rules, establishing a regular meeting schedule, assigning roles and tasks to group members, and determining which collaboration tools will help the group accomplish the project.<br />Establishing ground rules is a good first step. Look at your assignment. How will work be divided among team members? Do you have a project goals? If so, what are they? How will you negotiate agreements or disagreements? What are the penalties for non-participating members? It is important to have a good understanding of group values so that you can make a fair and balanced proposal for how your group should work together. You may also want to negotiate the use of internet technologies to help you accomplish your work.<br />Make a Group Contract<br />Some groups function best if there's a group contract or charter in place.<br />There are many possible elements that can be put into a group contract. These include outlining the common goals for the group project, listing the roles and responsibilities for group members, a detailing of project deadlines including interim goals, and possible penalties for not completing work. Penalties can include things like extra work like compiling final edits or printing the final product. Your group contract should be a product that reflects your group values. <br />Remember that the group contract is not a real legal document. Your instructor is the real final arbiter for project disputes. But a project charter can help clarify expectations and diffuse problems before they even happen by outlining a clear process for group needs.<br />Creating a Schedule<br />Crowded schedules are a constant complaint of groups trying to work together. Agree on a regular meeting that works for everyone. Keep this time blocked out regularly even if you don't plan on meeting every week. Try to align meetings with key due dates for your assignment. Negotiate what things you can deliver for each meeting. Set deadlines early to allow the group to review each other's work. <br />Consider using the assignment due date calculator when creating your schedule to give yourself some ideas for creating a basic timeline.<br />Designating Roles and Tasks<br />It is important to have a group leader or facilitator, but there are lots of other roles that are important for moving a project forward. These include:<br /><ul><li>Facilitator: organizes and facilitates online meetings
Note Taker: Takes meeting notes and posts to group members
Summarizer: summarizes what was discussed and outlines next steps and who is responsible for what
Progress chaser: Follows up with group members to ensure that things move forward.
Timekeeper: periodically reminds group of time left and work to be done.
Presenter: presents material that is created by the group.
Mediator: uses skills to assist in conflict resolution or decision making when necessary</li></ul>Consider whether your project will benefit from sharing responsibilities and switching up roles.<br />Tools for Collaborating<br />[Note: You may choose to push hyperlinks to these online resources if you feel that it will benefit the presentation. Have these ready beforehand for your co-facilitator.]<br />There are lots of online tools available to make working in groups easier than ever.<br />Tools for communicating: Skype, Instant Messenger services such as MSN, Yahoo, or Google Chat, or you can even ask your professor to set up a private chat room for your group on WebCT.<br />Tools for collaborative writing: You can use online writing environments such as Google Docs to upload and jointly edit Word, Presentation and even spreadsheet documents. If you require a place to compile notes as a group, try using a wiki. You can make use of the UBC Wiki or create a private wiki using an online wiki service such as PBWorks. <br />Tools for scheduling and project management: You can use services such as Doodle to quickly visualize everyone's schedule. More advanced project management software such as Wiggio or Teambox allow for scheduling meetings, assigning tasks, and even managing conversations so that they don't get lost in your e-mail. <br />There are dozens of tools available. Just make sure that you discuss them as a group so that you all understand how you want to use them. <br />Poll<br />What role do you see yourself playing in a group? What sort of tools would help you achieve your group work?<br />Reflection<br />Ask students to write down two strategies they will take away from this workshop. This will force them to think about the material covered and to think about what may work best for them in the future. <br />Need more help?<br />Direct the students to the Learning Commons Study Toolkit page for Online Groupwork for further resources.<br />Thank the students for participating. Push the Online Workshop Series Survey link at them. <br />Make sure to end archiving now. <br />Stick around to see if any participants have further questions or comments.<br />