Learning through Groups and Teams

Exploring Attitudes, Feelings, and Perspectives

Intended Learning Outcomes
What students learn
Way of Learning
Origins and theory
Common Methods
What the teacher provides
Exploring attitudes, feelings, and perspectives
Awareness of attitudes, biases, and other perspectives, ability to collaborate
Learning through groups and teams
Human communication theory, group counseling theory
Group activities
Team projects

Is this learning that involves changing opinions, attitudes, and beliefs? Does it involve creating understanding from an awareness of multiple perspectives? Does it deal with feelings? Does it cultivate empathy? Is teamwork or collaboration being addressed here? These are learning outcomes that are well served by learning through groups and teams.

A political science teacher uses groups to explore controversial issues in her American government class. Brief scenarios are used to set in motion discussions, exchange of viewpoints, and further research to back up opinions. How does the teacher manage these groups and ensure civil discourse when strongly held opinions are involved?

Teachers who want to use groups and teams effectively do the following:

  • use groups for the purpose of exploring attitudes, feelings, and perspectives
  • recognize the various characteristics and stages of groups
  • determine the appropriate size of a group
  • compose the groups usually to maximize diversity of opinions, perspectives, or skills
  • provide an activity or task that produces disagreement or encourages collaboration
  • orient students to the process of working in a group
  • help the groups set expectations, norms, and guidelines
  • ensure adequate physical or virtual space for the groups to operate
  • monitor the progress of the groups, keeping watch on communication patterns, roles, norms, and rules
  • identify and help students address common group problems: conflict, apathy, social loafing, and groupthink
  • use assessment methods that encourage individual accountability and group collaboration
  • use assessment methods that address product and process objectives
  • help students interpret the learning that has occurred

How do you use this way of learning?

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