Group work can increase student learning and participation in several ways. Here are ideas for designing effective group activities that are meaningful to students.
Most instructors worry that students will not speak up in class. By helping students better prepare for section, instructors can ensure more frequent class participation.
Creative ideas from GSIs for eliciting memorable discussions that help students learn.
by Shelly Steward, Sociology
To make theory a way of seeing and understanding the world, [students] needed to be reminded of it outside of lectures, sections, and assignments. How could I insert sociological ideas into students’ everyday lives beyond the classroom? My strategy to address this problem was to create a course Twitter account.
by Sandile Hlatshwayo, Economics
There are several benefits to this warm-up approach. Primarily… students who must first attempt to solve problems with very little instruction tend to learn the concepts better once they are given formal instruction. Second, students experience less fear over offering incorrect answers as making public errors becomes a normalized part of the classroom experience. Finally, and centrally, students that tend to be non-participators participate…
by Emily A. Hellmich, French (Home Department: Education)
I realized that while my students did have passionate opinions as well as a desire to communicate them, they hesitated: not knowing one specific word represented an insurmountable barrier to them that shut down communication and sent them running to a more expert resource… I led the students in the creation of a “semiotic brainstorm” meant to show them not only just how much French they already knew but also to detail, step-by-step, one way to access this knowledge in communication.
by Kathryn Fleishman, English
Challenged with independent critical thinking and absorbed in a network of ideas that reached out of our classroom and into their everyday lives, my students developed the willingness to risk an argument along with a strong grasp of the research process. … [S]tudents polished the opinions they had proffered as tweets and comments into solid theses for their individual research projects, transforming uncertain, visceral reactions into logical, distinctive arguments.
by Jordan Greenwald, Comparative Literature
I…came to realize that this lesson could not be learned through class discussion alone, since asking these questions while leading discussion is pedagogically less effective than getting students to ask those questions themselves. I therefore decided, with the encouragement of my co-instructor, to design a group assignment that would familiarize students with the choices one makes when bringing a dramatic text to life.
by Nadia Kurd, Molecular and Cell Biology
I was frustrated to find that any time I catered to the more advanced students and presented more challenging topics, the rest of the class struggled to follow along; whereas when I continued to conduct class at a level where most of the students were comfortable, the advanced students again lost interest. In an attempt to remedy this problem, I decided to try to develop “interactive” worksheets for class.
by Elise Piazza, Undergraduate and Interdisciplinary Studies (Home Department: Vision Science)
On my first day as a graduate student instructor for Introduction to Cognitive Science, I noticed that participation was limited to a few students, while the rest sat silently, either intimidated or bored…As an experimental psychologist, I decided to introduce my scientific approach to teaching by turning our discussion section into an experiment.