Seven Strategies to Improve Group Work

Students from , Colombia. Photo: © Charlotte Kesl / World BankCollaborative work in the classroom can have powerful and positive effects on student learning. In order to create the best possible outcome for students, teachers have to develop and employ learning strategies that help students engage with the content and with each other. In the article Inventories, Confessionals, and Contracts: Strategies for Effective Group Work, author Larissa Pahomov shares the following seven strategies that you can use in your classroom:

  1. Skills inventory: Students are asked to complete an inventory of skills related to the task prior to the implementation of the task. The inventory is a simple, teacher-made inventory that the teacher uses to help inform group assignments.
  2. Confessional: During the first student meeting, students have an honest conversation about the strengths and weaknesses they bring to the table.
  3. Group contract: The document details the communication and work dynamic for the group.
  4. Daily goal setting: Daily goals are established as the project progresses. Students must write the goal for the teacher to see and review.
  5. Daily point distribution: Students have an allotted number of points to hand out at the end of the day based upon how group workers have completed tasks.
  6. Peer mediation: When conflict arises, peer mediation takes place. Students are encouraged to write about what is taking place and invite the teacher to observe. The teacher observes the situation and then asks redirecting questions in hopes of resolving the issues.
  7. Closing reflection: Students must address several questions regarding their learning and growth as part of the final project.

As you prepare for your classes next week, keep these strategies in mind. Use them to make your group work dynamic and meaningful. You and your students will be glad you did!

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