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Create Effective Student Groupings based on Purpose


^21st Century Skills All Ages Strategy


Flexible Thinking Social Awareness

Create Effective Student Groupings based on Purpose

If your student groupings sometimes result in inter-personal conflicts or poor productivity

Teach It!

  1. Objective: Create purposeful student groupings based on task objective as well as the inter-personal skills you want to develop.
  2. General Considerations: a) Small groups of 3 to 6 work better than larger groups. b) Students need variety in group members; even positive group dynamics can break down over time. Mix up groups throughout the course of the year. c) Balance a variety of factors when forming groups, not just content knowledge: executive function skills, students' pace, personal interests, personality, and social dynamics all play a role in group outcomes.
  3. Heterogeneous Groupings: a) Best to foster creative problem solving and develop key social skills. b) Group students with different backgrounds, interests and Mindprint strengths and needs so they gain alternate perspectives, become more self-aware of their own strengths and needs, and develop empathy for others. c) Anticipate these groups might require more guided structure on how to work together, including participation rules to ensure balanced input. d) Strategies for heterogeneous groupings include: a project plan with responsibilities, meeting notes which are reviewed at the beginning and end of each meeting, starting with a brainstorming session, and clear group roles. These strategies will avoid one person taking control of the group and can empower students with weaker executive functions, memory, or speed.
  4. Homogeneous Groupings: a) Best for learning challenging new skills or where interest and motivation is critical. b) Homogeneous groups can include students with similar Mindprint strengths and needs, even if they are at different mastery levels. c) Grouping students with similar skills enables them to use similar, most impactful strategies. d) Keep in mind that students' Mindprint strengths and needs, interests and motivations will vary by topic, so your homogeneous groupings might need to change as you progress to different topics based on previous knowledge and/or the most important Mindprint skills for mastery in that topic.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Group learning can have a very positive impact on learning outcomes. Students benefit from learning from peers, teaching peers, and developing the social skills inherent in effective cooperation. However, groups can have sub-optimal results when personalities clash or students have varying levels of interest, motivation and capabilities. Taking the time to identify the specific project goals and the inherent qualities that each member can bring to the group can improve the chances that group work will have positive outcomes.