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Group Work: Group Agreements

Brief description

The purpose of this activity is to help the students to collaborate in groups. It is a good idea to do the activity as soon as groups have been formed because it helps the students to talk about their expectations in terms of collaboration, and to agree on a model which works for each group member. The group agreement, which is like a set of rules for collaboration in the group, enables the students to reach consensus about their expectations.

Motivation for the activity and required outcome

The process involved in reaching group agreements gives the students the chance to express their different expectations regarding collaboration in the group. The aim is to reduce the number of conflicts and problems in group work and to focus on academic collaboration.

Performing the activity

The activity is divided into five themes and gets the students to discuss their expectations in terms of collaboration in the group:

  • Expectations: You should encourage each student to write down their expectations with regard to themselves and the other group members.
  • Framework: Among other things, each group should discuss the level of ambition they aim to achieve. The group should define a framework: what happens if one or more group members fail to prepare for a meeting, fail to come to a meeting, or fail to stick to agreements? Should there be any consequences? And if so, which?
  • Meetings: The group should talk about how often they will meet. Encourage the group to draw up a timetable covering an lengthy period of time. The group should also discuss how to meet: in person at the university, in the library, in someone’s home, or maybe online using an online meeting service such as Zoom or Teams.
  • Minutes: Encourage the students to take minutes of their meetings. They can use these minutes to remember what they have agreed on.
  • Reflections and evaluations: Encourage the students to reflect on and evaluate their collaboration on an ongoing basis.

You will need:

  • Print-outs of the handout for all groups.

Useful tips:

  • How much time should be set aside for the activity?
  • How big should the study groups be?
  • Should the activity be repeated during the semester with a view to helping the students to evaluate and revise the group work?

Facilitating study groups

Here is a concrete example of how a teacher has used the tool in practice.