Silicon, Circuits, and the Digital Revolution

Working in Groups

I don't like to do all the work and let others take the credit. How can I prevent this?

It is important that each student be held individually accountable for his or her own performance. When each student group takes this seriously, "free riders" are discouraged and contributors to the group effort are rewarded. The first provision for emphasizing individual accountability is the assignment of roles of responsibility.  There should be a separate role for each student in the group, and these roles should rotate among group members every week or after every problem or assignment. Some suggested roles and their responsibility are included in the table below.

Role   Responsibility   For Example
Discussion Leader   Keeps group on-track;
maintains full participation
  "Let’s focus on the problem."
"Should we move onto the next question?"
record keeper
  Records assignments, strategies, unresolved issues, data;
convenes group outside of class, keeps group record sheets
  "Did we get all the learning issues down?"
"Is this the diagram we want?"
Reporter   Makes sure all agree on plan/action/report;
writes up assignment 
  "Are we in agreement now?"
"Everyone check this draft before tomorrow."
Accuracy Coach   Probes for group understanding;
locates resources and brings them to class
  "Why do you think that?"
"What does this text say?"
"Where did you find that information?"
Skeptic   Challenges group consensus;
checks for alternative ideas
  "I’m not sure we’re on the right track."
"Are you sure about that?
John, do you agree with Sue?"
Timekeeper   Checks for timing of discussion of the problem;
alerts discussion leader when group needs to switch activities
  "Lisa, we’ve only got 10 minutes, we’d better assign learning issues."
"We should move onto the second page now."
  Summarizes progress of the group;
checks for involvement and understanding of all group members
  "Here’s where I think we are.  What do you think Sally?"
"Jack, you’ve not said what you’re thinking.  Do you agree with Joe?"

If there are fewer students in each group than roles of responsibility, you may want to combine some of the functions, such as Discussion Leader and Timekeeper or Accuracy Coach and Reflector.

Another important tool that will help group members ensure that all students contribute to the group effort is establishing and enforcing group ground-rules. You will be encouraged to discuss the behaviors that you will and will not tolerate from others in your group, and decide the consequences for violators of these ground-rules. After your group comes to consensus on the ground-rules and consequences, you should send a copy by e-mail to me at <>. All group members should be cc'd so each has a copy also.

Some examples of commonly used ground-rules are the following:

As in the world outside the classroom, rules need to be enforced with consequences, or they may be ignored. Some examples of appropriate consequences for violators of the ground-rules are the following: The instructors will approve each group's list of ground-rules as well as consequences, so that if needed, s/he will help students reinforce those guidelines.

SCEN103 Comments, suggestions, or requests to
Last updated Feb. 11, 2000.
© Barb Duch, Univ. of Delaware, 2000.