Do you use group presentations as part of your group project? While one group is up presenting, what is everyone else doing? Working on their turn? Surfing the internet? Sleeping? After noticing the number of people zoned out during the presentations, I tried a different approach.
I scheduled the presentations so that they were delivered to just me, and sometimes to the program manager, while the rest of the class worked on an assignment. I started the day by explaining the assignment, then left the class to work on it when they were not presenting.
I’ve had one student express surprise, she wanted to see how others handled the assignment, but others appreciated the time to work on assignments. When class resumed, I checked in on how the work was going and addressed any questions that had come up during the work period.
In many media discussions about traveling to Mars, there has been speculation about how humans will be able to handle the stress of being in close quarters with a team for such a long period of time. The podcast The Secret History of the Future did an episode that looked at Arctic exploration for some lessons. It’s not much of a surprise to see that some of those lessons can be applied to group work in our courses, especially in full time programs.
-Change the view: sitting in the same location, looking at the same perspective day after day causes monotony and can lead to tunnel vision. Make students get up and move, when they are doing group work or class activities, make them change seats, change the view.
-have a charter: help groups to create a charter that covers communication rules, deadlines, escalation procedures. You can even make this a part of the submitted work to force teams to address this key topic for being able to get along.
-encourage ‘alone time’: once the group has had a meeting and given updates, received instructions, encourage them to separate to do their work. This can lead to better communication when they come back together, preventing teammates from feeling like they are being micromanaged and encouraging accountability.
-encourage competition between groups: if one in a healthy way, it can be a good way to build a team spirit within the groups and get work done. Usually group work is done between the team and the instructor, making some portion of it visible to the larger class, and rewarding first done / best done/ most accurate, on a small part of the project can help with team spirit and move work along in a productive way.
If you want to check out the podcast and see what lessons Victorian Era explorers are handing down, check out: https://slate.com/podcasts/the-secret-history-of-the-future/2019/07/can-victorian-era-polar-exploration-offer-us-lessons-as-we-ponder-a-journey-to-mars
In the full time programs, PACE uses Nexus to host an entire year’s worth of courses into one ‘shell’ or area. When instructors start to add material, particularly quizzes and assignment dropboxes, and sometimes daily content, it can be confusing for students to see five entries for “Quiz 1” or “Day One Slides”. To make the materials understandable for students, add your course name to the beginning so that an entry reads “Training & Development Quiz 1” or “Project Management Fundamentals Assignment 1”.