groups and teams

Guidelines for Effective Group Discussions

Whether it’s the first day of class or you’re several weeks into the term, group discussions provide your students with the opportunity to get to know one another and see new perspectives as they explore course topics. As the instructor (and facilitator of those conversations), you want to keep these discussions on topic… and keep them from losing focus, losing steam, or turning sour. The good news: by putting some basic ground rules in place, you’ll set the stage for effective and meaningful conversations that leave you and your students enlightened, inspired, and enthusiastic about the learning experience. In the Instructor’s Resource Read More…


Student Voices: The Pluses and Minuses of Group Work

When you assign group projects, what goals do you have in mind? Collaboration? Improved communication? A shared sense of discovery? An experience that prepares students for the team projects that await them in their future careers? Whatever your objectives,  you certainly hope that students will embrace the process and make the most of it. Thankfully, many students do see the benefits that group work can offer, even as they acknowledge its challenges and difficulties. We recently asked students participating in Cengage Learning’s Student Case Study Program: What are your thoughts in regards to ‘group work’? What do you like about working in groups in Read More…


Collaborative Learning in the Writing Classroom

When students collaborate, they have the chance to learn from one another, grow from hearing each others’ perspectives, and dive into deeper learning. For these reasons (and more), collaborative learning practices have beneficial applications in the writing classroom. Through collaborative learning activities, students can receive feedback on their papers and hone their ability to give valuable feedback. And, in the long run, they can also develop the ability to reflect upon, evaluate, and improve their own writing. In today’s featured video, Dr. Robert Yagelski, author of Cengage Learning’s Writing: Ten Core Concepts and other texts, describes what collaborative learning means to him. You’ll also hear Read More…


Tips for Students: Making Connections in College

Spring is in the air and while college students may be hard at work studying for finals, they may not have found the time to have an active social life as well. Good on them for buckling down, certainly, but a well-balanced life is what keeps students happy and motivated. According to author Julia T. Wood in her text, Communication in Our Lives, Seventh Edition, socializing helps us to build the much-needed communication skills that we use every day. “We spend a great deal of time communicating. We talk, listen, have dialogues with ourselves, participate in group discussions, present oral reports, watch Read More…


Tips for Students: Seven Reasons to Value Group Work

Though group work often prompts a collective sigh among students, they may not yet realize that these projects provide a valuable opportunity to learn and practice many of the teamwork skills and practices that are used by businesses and organizations. Instead of chafing against the prospect of group projects, they can focus on the advantages of working in groups, as described in Dr. Constance Staley’s FOCUS on College Success, Fourth Edition. We’ve summarized her points below. When you work in groups, you can: Draw on the group’s collective knowledge. When you work independently, you’re limited to your own set Read More…


Problem-Solving in Teams: Secrets of Success

You or your students may be placed on a team tasked with resolving a particular issue or addressing a particular challenge. Or, your existing teams may, on occasion, need to come up with a solution to a problem that arises on the course towards completing a project. For this reason, knowing how to solve problems as a team plays an important role in reaching a successful solution. In her book Communicating for Results: A Guide for Business and the Professions, Tenth Edition, Cheryl Hamilton describes eight key behaviors that enable teams to successfully collaborate on solutions to Read More…


How to Successfully Collaborate Online

Think back to the class sessions and meetings that have felt especially collaborative and engaging. What qualities do those experiences share? Perhaps it’s the particular mix of people involved, the sheer number of new ideas that came out of your discussion, or an overall welcoming environment that fosters creativity and conversation. In any event, it likely wasn’t an experience that felt stuffy, dull, or disorganized. Though positive collaborative experiences do feel energizing, natural, and free, even the most organic meetings benefit from some semblance of preparation, organization, and respect for fellow participants. This is even more true for Read More…


Collaboration Tools that Really Work

Given a choice, many people prefer in-person group and team meetings. After all, when you’re meeting in person, you can observe others’ facial expressions and gestures, hear the tone of their voices, and see just how much attention each person is paying to the topic at hand. However, it’s not always possible to get all the members of a team in one room together. For example, many college classes meet entirely online; if group work assignments are part of the coursework, then it stands to reason that face-to-face meetings would be difficult, if not impossible, to coordinate. Thankfully, online students Read More…


What a Team Must Do to Work Together Effectively

Most of us acknowledge that, in order for a group or team to function successfully, each individual member must bring his or her best efforts to the table. But even with that acknowledgement, we may occasionally need a reminder about the specific attitudes, actions, and behaviors that define and facilitate effective collaboration. In The Leadership Experience, Sixth Edition, Richard L. Daft describes five key behaviors that group members must adopt in order for their team to reach peak performance. These principles can be applied to collaboration in the workplace; they also have relevance to students who are Read More…


Forming Groups in the Age of YouTube

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has identified interaction and communication as important personal competencies in its Core Competency Framework for Entry into the Accounting Profession. The Accounting Education Change Commission in Position Statement Number 1 (September 1990) also emphasized the importance of Interpersonal skills, which include the ability to work effectively in groups and to provide leadership when appropriate. Hence, learning to work together in groups has thus become an essential part of the introductory accounting class experience. The question becomes “What is the best way for an instructor to form or facilitate the formation of these groups?” Students can be placed in groups randomly by the instructor. Alternatively, students can self-select their own groups. However, in the introductory accounting course, students usually do not know each other and typically choose students who happen to be sitting next to them in class. This often does not lead to the optimum group outcome. It is more helpful for students to strive for balanced competencies to achieve their common goal.

After a YouTube segment on speed dating came to my attention, it seemed to be a fun and possibly ideal solution to forming groups of diverse students in my introductory classroom. I decided to try it!
Read More…