Wednesday, September 9, 2015

How do teachers form small teams?

To divide students into groups, teachers should decide:
The size of the teams.
The duration of the teams.
The way to assign students into teams (Johnson and Johnson, 1999).
Teams can be formed randomly or the team members can be chosen by the students or the teacher. Those who have participated in GL teams agree that the most effective teams are heterogeneous and are chosen by the teacher and not by the students. Some teachers who have successfully applied GLs ask their students to fill up questionnaires on the first day of class. Through these questionnaires, they can get useful information like: gender, average grade, experience and areas of study, most relevant skills, weakest characteristics, etc. These questionnaires can help teachers make groups in a more balanced, varied and compatible way.
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What are the functions of teams?
A function of small teams is solving problems. Some typical problem solving procedures are (Enerson et al, 1997):
Each team writes a question and a solution in a piece of paper and makes sure that each member understands it and is able to explain it.
Some students are selected randomly and asked to present their model or solution.
It's expected for all members of the class to discuss and ask questions about all models. The discussion alternates from the whole class to a small group.
Groups evaluate their effectiveness by working together.
Each team prepares and submits a report of activities.

Preferably, groups of students should be small and helpful. They should focus on consensus, negotiation and the development of social and teamwork skills. Still, they could eventually run into some problems.

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