Putting students into teams doesn't guarantee GL success. The students have learned that school evaluates individual work, so their concept of learning may be based on the idea of competition. After years of competition-based learning, it may be difficult for students to think differently and to learn to think as members of a team.
Usually, it shouldn't be assumed that students know how to work in teams. Some don't know how. Start by introducing the students to GL from the first day. Some successful GL instructors use the first day to explain to the students that they'll use GL techniques and activities.
♦ Brenda Larson, from the Chandler Gilbert Community College, on the first day of class uses an activity called "syllabus jigsaw". She puts students into teams, gives each team a different page in the syllabus and asks them to look for answers to questions about the class.
♦ Robert Melton is an engineering professor at the University of Pennsylvania. In his class, students start with an interesting task. He gives the teams uncooked spaghetti, tape and 30 minutes to build a structure as long as they can that's capable of sustaining itself. (Enerson et al, 1997). This fun project gives the students the opportunity to watch other team members and know how they think and work.
♦ Ted Panitz is an algebra instructor at Cape Cod Community College, and he prepares his students for GL before the first day of class. A few days before classes begin, he sends the students a letter, welcoming them and giving them some motivational words. In the letter, he asks them to buy the textbook before going to class, and he asks them to start working on chapter one, so they are prepared to learn on the first day, which also prepares them to work together. He also asks them to write a math autobiography and to bring it with them on the first day of class. His intention is for students to start thinking about math so they can feel more comfortable when he asks them to discuss their thoughts with others.