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Rotating study groups

Brief description

The students are divided into study groups at the beginning of their Bachelor’s or Master’s degree studies. In both this and subsequent semesters, the study groups are currently reshuffled and combined into new groups. This creates variation among study group members and enhances students’ collaboration skills.

Motivation for the exercise and required outcome

Rotating study groups may contribute to better social integration in the course and develop the students’ collaboration skills. In their future careers, the students must collaborate with many different types of people; therefore it is important to train such skills already during their studies. In addition, the rotating study groups may provide an opportunity for students to get to know one another (particularly if there are many students in a year group or the students come from different backgrounds) and to feel part of an academic community.

Performing the exercise

  • You must divide the students into randomly combined study groups and assign an academic task to them, for instance a written product, an oral presentation or the like, which they must solve in the group.
    • Ask the students to begin by preparing an agreement form (awaiting translation) in order to balance their expectations to the group work. This is a good exercise for them to verbalise their expectations to one another and to themselves.
    • Let the students work in the group - on either a single or a number of academic tasks.
  • Then divide the students into new groups, let them run a new balancing of expectations round, and assign a new task for them to solve in the group.
  • Make sure the students are involved in three to four different study groups during their first semester, and then set up a more permanent group for their second semester; members for this group should be selected on the basis of their expectations or interests (you may gain inspiration from the course in forming study groups).

Variation options:

  • The students may be selected randomly for the groups based on the teacher’s or student teacher’s choice, or on the basis of personal preferences for working methods or interests, for instance.  You may run a quiz in your teaching session and combine the students on the basis of their responses.

  • Agree with the other teachers in the degree programme how the students should be divided into groups across academic subjects and levels. You may discuss, for instance, whether the students should be moved to new study groups each semester or remain in permanent study groups after the first couple of semesters.  This will enable all teachers to base their work on the same overall plan, which includes one standard structure for the students in all their courses in the programme.

You will need:

Worth considering:

  • Is it possible to form groups in the same way in all courses across the year group, so that the students experience a sense of cohesion across all courses?

  • How will you as a teacher support your students’ work in the groups? For instance by supplying agreement forms (awaiting translation) or suggestions for working methods.