“Welcome to class, and by the way, when you review the course syllabus, you will see that one-third of your mark will come from group work.”
For many of us teaching in a postsecondary setting, the course syllabus review that includes a component of group work is met with discourse and protest. “I don’t know anyone in the class,” “I prefer to work independently,” and “I’ve had trouble with groups in the past” are comments that I have heard a lot while teaching business students; I know my colleagues have experienced similar reactions. I also know that there is tremendous value to be gained from group work, and the capabilities that students acquire from this work tend to be essential across career streams. So, with this in mind, let’s help students build their capacity to be stronger group collaborators who can both contribute to and enjoy working in teams and groups.
There are many strategies that help students build their capability to work in a group. Let me home in on the concept of personality intelligence as a capability to work better with others, build better relationships, and become more aware. Indeed, this type of intelligence is of value in the classroom, and it is highly valued in organizational settings in virtually all careers and jobs.
Personality intelligence is a mental ability, and it speaks to an individual’s capacity to reason about one’s personality as a whole (Mayer, 2014). Being intelligent about our personalities helps us better understand our motivators, needs, interests, passions, values, emotions, and thoughts. And it enables us to better understand the same for others, helping us resolve problems that relate to our ability to get along with, and work around, other people (Mayer, 2014).
Students and professors alike can benefit from a heightened awareness of their personalities. In doing so, they stand to work more effectively together and better understand each other’s needs, interests, usual behavior, and stress behaviors. Below are some ways you can build personality intelligence in your classroom, whether in person or in a virtual setting.
While the above tips are intended to build students’ personality intelligence, they are equally effective for professors working in postsecondary settings. Test out the tools prior to bringing them to the classroom to ensure a fulsome understanding of how they work and to be certain that they will fit in your classroom dynamic.
Learning more about our personalities and how they inform classroom behaviors and relationships can add a lot of value to group work and dynamics. Let’s be more curious about this concept! In doing so, we can better understand how personality affects decision-making, control, sensitivity, incentives, change, and energy in the classroom. When we create more favorable conditions for group work, we can change the response to syllabus review.
Mayer, J. D. (2014). Personal intelligence: The power of personality and how it shapes our lives. Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Beth Corcoran is a professor at George Brown College and the founder and managing director at Ascenditur Incorporated, a consulting and coaching organization based in Toronto, Canada. Beth works with leaders in the area of organizational and management development and human resources, helping people and organizations thrive.