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Forming Groups

There are different ways to form groups depending on the goals and objectives of the group:

Self-selection: students choose who they want to work with.

  • What's the benefit? Student motivation and accountability might increase by exercising choice.
  • Any drawbacks? Some groups are stronger than others and students don't work with as many classmates.

Random: students are randomly assigned to groups - for example: counting off by the number of groups you want to end up with ie. count off by 5 so the 1s form a group, 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s.

  • What's the benefit? Students have more opportunities to build connections within the class and work with others.
  • Any drawbacks? Students may prefer to work with their friends

Mixed Disciplines: students with different majors are mixed into one group to provide a mix of perspectives.

  • What's the benefit? Students are exposed to different views on the same problem which mirrors many work groups after graduation
  • Any drawbacks? Students will experience more conflict because they think about different things, use different jargon, and have to find common ground

Similar Disciplines:  students with the same major work together

  • What's the benefit? Students can explore a problem more deeply from one perspective
  • Any drawbacks? Issues or drawbacks may be missed because only one side of an issue is being explored.

Regardless of how you form groups, be sure to tell students why you want them to work in groups -- why working individually won't achieve the same results for this work. 

Group Size

Optimum group size can range from 3-8 members in one group. To determine the best size for the groups you're forming consider the nature of the task, the makeup of the group, and the duration they'll work together.