Liveblogging from Faculty Workshop

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Sophie Sparrow (NH School of Law) spoke on the topic: Harnessing the Power of Small Group Learning. Below are my rough notes from the presentation.

  • Greet teammates – tell something about yourself that teammates don’t know
  • 3+guidelines for team performance
    • Active listening
    • All participate, no one dominates
    • One leader
    • Consequences
  • Group activity 1-  Main reason students dislike group work?   “Free riders”
    • Do team-based learning in class
    • 5-7 people is ideal size for a team
    • Random selection- no self-selecting
  • Group activity 2 – Key factor that facilitates group effectiveness?  Group & ind. accountability
    • Team can assess individual performance
    • Higher order thinking – must collaborate – shorter piece of work
  • Group activity 3 – How long to become effective teams?  6-7 weeks
    • Have to get to know each other, get engaged in group work
  • Video – Group work simulation – “The Loafer” (on YouTube)

  • Group activity 4 – Reason for team dysfunction? Team avoids conflict
    • Do some team activities first
    • Then discuss team interactions
    • Then show the video
  • Group activity 5 – Reason for students to give & get peer feedback?  Team become a more powerful learning unit
    • Show students the guidelines first
    • Students may not realize how they are perceived
  • Give peer feedback
    • Team guidelines
    • What made team effective
    • What would improve team effectiveness
  • Conclusions:
    • With group work, Everyone participates…Learning is improved!!
    • Group work always outshines individual work.
    • Discussion is where the learning occurs!!
    • Team of 5-7 allows for diversity and collective wisdom.

Best assignment/task  for groups: 4 S’s

Single answer
Same problem
Simultaneous response
Significant problem

Role of the teacher:

  • Not “the sage on the stage”
  • Must come up with complex problems
  • “Teaching with your mouth shut”
  • Have students move around in the room (in large classes)
  • Ask for feedback midway through the course – what is working, what is not


So how does TECHNOLOGY fit in Small Group Learning???

  • The group product could be in the form of a PPT slideshow, a concept map, video…
  • The group could create wiki.
  • The group could meet virtually through an online chat.
  • The group could collaborate through discussion forums, emails, etc.
  • Research required would be done through Internet searches, legal databases, etc.


For other research by Sophie Sparrow, click HERE.


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