STIC:Group work roles workshop

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1 Group work roles workshop

Daniel K. Schneider, TECFA, Faculty of psychology and educational sciences, University of Geneva
Workshop notes
SDG Summer School (2017)
See also: Master in Innovation, Human Development, and Sustainability, a new full program.
Geneva, July, 2017

2 Objectives


  • Group work leads to better results when participants are given accountable roles. In addition, group work should be driven by scenarios, i.e. activities that engage participants in tasks, using tools and resources and producing outcomes. The degree of such "scaffolding" can vary according to learning goals and teaching philosophy.
  • Physical visualizations (or physicalizations) can promote cognition through a variety of mechanisms, notably easier perception, hands-on manipulation and enhanced interaction with other participants. We can distinguish several types of physical visualizations, according to three dimensions: active/passive, kit/whole, digitally enhanced/non digital. In this workshop we will focus on creating a set of tokens useful for group animation.
  • Construction kits allow creating and manipulating visualizations from building blocks. Also known as expressive media or manipulatives, they allow interactive exploration of designs, concepts and roles. Lego are an example.

In this workshop we will:

  • shortly discuss why assigning roles to group workers can be beneficial, in particular in education (see above)
  • shortly discuss why physical tokens are better than simple verbal instructions (see above)
  • make you think about future "outreach" activities to plan within your project (hands on, see below)
  • have you create a paper (or other) prototype to organize group work of your future "clients" (hands on, see below)

3 Group work roles

Roles for group work are defined in many contexts. In education, there are two different sorts of roles.

  1. Most pedagogies rather focus on managerial roles, i.e. give a specific management task to each or only to some group member(s). All team members will contribute to all or most parts of the project.
  2. Some pedagogies (typically technical development) identify specialist roles, i.e. organise the group as a multi-disciplinary team where each team member contributes to a part of the project.

In this workshop we will focus on the first case, although you are allowed to define "specialist" roles.

Examples you can look at (but do not spend too much time on this !!)

Below is an example of token presented in the form of a card that we found doing the google images search above.

Source: Co-operative groups, MargD Teaching Posters

Feel free to come up with other solutions than cards, e.g. a 3D structure or a connected object. If you copy designs, make sure that their license allows you to do so (!)

4 HANDS ON: prototyping

  • Be fast. This is just a prototyping activity. Ask the instructor and other persons in the room for help.
  • Notice that this workshop itself is an example of a design activity. It includes two learning goals (manage group activities, design tangible teaching objects), an outcome (a set of group role token prototypes), and three tasks. Consider distributing roles (leader, note taker, presenter, timekeeper) among yourselves ....

4.1 Part I - scenario design (15 minutes)

  • Imagine that you will bring your project to a school (or if not possible, to another environment) where children (or other participants) will engage in some group activity that you will organise.
  • Shortly design a scenario, i.e. a group learning activity that defines an objective in terms of learning, things to do, and an measurable output that should result from the activity
Objective = ...
Outcome = ...
Task list = ....

4.2 Part II - define a role set (20 minutes)

  • Define roles that will help the group to be more efficient. For each, outline:
Name = ....
Purpose = ....
Tasks = ....
  • Create a physical prototype that will summarize each role. Use pen and paper or anything else that is physical.

4.3 Part III - debriefing (16 minutes)

  • At the end of the workshop, each group will present their solution (names, purposes, tasks) in 2 minutes max. Only present your most common and your most original role.

5 Results

This short workshop went well. All groups produced something of interest, although two groups did not fully understand the challenge and produced something else.

Presentation of prototypes
Presentation of prototypes
Presentation of prototypes

6 Bibliography