Group Setting, Structures, and Norms

There are several practices that can help make groups function effectively. The instructor should provide an opportunity for students to discuss their expectations for group work and to set group norms, including methods and expectations for communication, dealing with group members who don’t contribute, and dealing with conflict within the group. In addition, the instructor should provide structure that promotes interdependence. This can be accomplished by structuring tasks that require contributions from all group members for completion—often with group members playing different roles—and establishing a reward structure that includes both individual and group components. For group work that spans multiple days or weeks, providing opportunities for peer evaluation can a means for ongoing adjustments to group interactions as well as a tool to promote individual accountability. Finally, it is important to consider the physical environment, including available technology, making choices about physical interactions and technology use that promote collaboration.

Setting Group Norms
Group Structures
Environment and Technology
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Cite this guide: Wilson KJ, Brickman P, Brame CJ. (2017) Evidence Based Teaching Guide: Group Work. CBE Life Science Education. Retrieved from
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