Silicon, Circuits, and the Digital Revolution

Working in Groups

What can I do to get group members to do their assignments?

If each group has written thoughtful ground-rules and consequences, then the next step that will help reinforce positive group behaviors and maximize individual accountability is giving helpful feedback to individuals and the group as a whole. Group feedback sessions should be scheduled two to three times a semester. The feedback session should begin with each individual stating what the group did well since the last feedback session, and what s/he thinks the group needs to change or improve in order to function better. You may find the Form "Prompts for Discussion of Group Function" convenient to use to help your discussion begin. After the recorder lists all suggestions, the group can go on to discuss the feedback, then come to consensus on one or more goals for the group in the period of time until the next feedback session. For example, if some members of the group are not coming prepared to class, and this is leading to a breakdown in group discussion, the goals for the next two weeks could be one or more of the following:

After students have discussed the current functioning of their group and set goals for future interactions, they will then rate each individualís contribution to the group and write feedback for each group member. The results of the ratings will be factored into each studentís grade.

Giving constructive feedback to members of your group is an important skill that you need to develop. It is also a powerful tool in managing the effectiveness of your group. The table below gives some examples of student behavior and some suggested feedback statements.

Good feedback:

Student Behavior   Sample Feedback
Student A is quiet and doesnít contribute to discussion.   It would help the group if you would contribute to the discussion more often. The information and opinions that you do contribute are very knowledgeable and helpful to our learning.
Student B dominates the discussion and is frequently incorrect.   You contribute to the discussion, but often do not allow others to speak. This hurts the group when your information may not be correct or complete, and others in the group do not have a chance to add their knowledge. Our group will be better if everyone has an opportunity to share what they know.
Student C thinks s/he knows the material and tries to get the group to move quickly through the problem, getting impatient if anyone asks questions.   You are a good resource of knowledge for the group, but when you encourage us to move too quickly through the problem, we donít learn all the details that we need. It would be helpful to the group if you asked more challenging questions, and helped answer others questions.

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Last updated Feb. 11, 2000.
© Barb Duch, Univ. of Delaware, 2000.