Designing Small Group Activities: A Resource Guide

Diverse group of four students working on a project
Students can learn from and with each other in groups; that’s been well-established in the research. But student learning in groups doesn’t happen automatically, and it doesn’t happen regularly unless the group activity is carefully designed. The areas listed below identify the essential components of effective small-group activities and experiences. Under each are several questions that can be used as part of the planning process. Most don’t have definitive right answers, but good answers depend on details like the learning objectives of the activity or assignment, the nature of the task, students’ experience with group work, and whether the product the group produces is graded. Fortunately, in most cases, there’s research and experience that can help teachers find their way to answers that make sense given what they hope group work will accomplish.

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