User:Vtaylor/Group projects/Forming Project Group Teams

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Forming Project Group Teams Forming: During the initial stage of the group, structure is developed, roles are assigned or claimed (both implicitly and explicitly), status relations between members of the group are established, norms begin to emerge, shared values are discovered, and general procedures for decision-making and problem-solving are agreed upon.


   * Are your students ready to be a team? Do they have cpmlimentary skills? Are they committed to a common purpose?
   * Who defines performance goals? Are these well understood by team members? Have they reached a common approach?
   * Do they hold themselves mutually accountable? How would you know?


   * Understand some elements of group dynamics that affect online collaboration
   * Learn some techniques for faciliating online team building 


Katzenbach and Smith defined a team as "A small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and common approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable."...

Because there is so much going on to distract members' attention in the beginning, the team accomplishes little, if anything, that concerns it's project goals. This is perfectly normal.

   * Engagement
   * Group formation
   * Group composition
   * Group dynamics
   * Roles and responsibilities


   * Asking the Really Tough Questions: Policy Issues for Distance Learning.
   * A Collaborative Learning Model
   * An interface for collaborative filtering of educational resources 


   * Each person should tell the group his or her name, interests related to the project, background related to the project, other courses taken appropriate to the project and so on. Take a thorough inventory of the group's resources
   * Establish a structure by appointing a coordinator and recorder. 


Review the Forming Project Group Teams discussion. Add a posting of your own - either a question or an observation. Post repsonses or comments on at least two other postings.


   * Assign students to groups, preferably by heterogeneous grouping rather than by student ability or student self-selection.
   * Do not change group assignments with each new task, rather allow time for each group to get to know each other through the work of several tasks.
   * Arrange for groups to work together without disrupting other groups. - group discussions, listservs, web pages
   * Assign roles to assure interdependence - summarizer, researcher, recorder, encourager, and observer.
   * Structure individual accountability as well as a group assessment in which individuals' rewards are based both on their own scores and on the average for the groups as a whole.
   * Discuss desired behaviors. Request that students take turns, use personal names, listen carefully to one another, and encourage everyone to participate.
   * Monitor student behavior. Circulate to observe groups in action. Note problems in completing assignments and working cooperatively.
   * Allow opportunities for groups to report their findings to the whole class.
   * Give feedback to each group about how well the members worked with one another and accomplished tasks and how they could improve. 

Group Size

In general online collaborative projects can be any size. However, as the number of participants increases, there is greater need for formal organization and definitions of roles and responsibilities. The moderator may assign these or the group may work these out within the group. For un-moderated teams, the activity should be restricted to smaller groups, as the group does not have an external source of direction and guidance.


In many online classes, the class are asked to self select to an area of interest or expertise - e.g., Higher Ed., K-12 and corporate. Then the participants are directed to form groups of 3-4 to work on a project. At this time the actual project has not been assigned, but participants are given an overview of the project.

Here are some samples of posts in group formation discussions. It is interesting to note how some individuals proceed directly to team organization.

   * I'm not sure exactly what the project is as yet, but it looks like I need a team. Anyone interested??
   * Hi all; does anyone want to collaborate with me on the project? I know R expressed an interest; anyone else? We should also start a dialog about how to ... . I have some ideas to banter around since I've been doing some research on ....
   * S and I hooked up for the project and would like to join you. Let me know.
   * First, let's confirm who's in the group: .... Your idea sounds fine with me, especially if you have some leads. I'd suggest we decide a team leader and then determine how to proceed then how the work should be divided. Did you have in mind something like ...? Maybe that's a way to divide the research/writing.
   * I agree P should be the leader as long as she's willing to take it on. (there will probably be other "opportunities" for the rest of us to chair in later classes.) How about it P?? 

Other Group Formation Strategies

   * I've divided up the class into 7 groups. The names and email addresses of your group members are listed below.
   * I sent out the message to 6 groups in my class, made up of 5-6 students each, and one group made up of 1 student (as per her request to work alone). 

Team Checklist From: Big Dog's Leadership Page�Special Project Teams

Goals Clear mission statement _____ Measurable objectives _____ Objectives are prioritized _____ Goals are set in all key task areas _____

Roles Individual roles, relationships, and accountabilities are clear _____ Style of leadership is appropriate for the team tasks _____ Each individual competent to perform her key tasks _____ The mix of roles is appropriate to the team tasks _____

Procedures Decisions reached are effective _____ Management information is effectively shared _____ Key activities are effectively coordinated _____ Products and services are of a high quality _____ Conflict is managed effectively within the team _____

Internal Relationships There are no areas of mistrust _____ Feedback is constructive _____ Relationships are not competitive and unsupportive _____

External Relationships Relationships with key external groups are effective _____ Mechanisms are in place to integrate with each key group _____ Time and effort is spent on identifying building and monitoring key external relationships _____

Icebreakers and Aids to Forming

There are several suggestions for helping students form groups and connections. Not all are applicable to community college student groups, but from the broad range of suggestions, coming up with something appropriate is easier.$131