Experience in UK universities suggests that whilst group work is an increasing component of assessment criteria, few students learn how to engage in it effectively. In response to this learning development need, partners from the LearnHigher CETL, (www.learnhigher.ac.uk) created an interactive web based video resource to help both students and tutors manage the challenges of group work. As an example of effective practice ‘Making Group-work work’ offers flexibility, accessibility and is built on sound pedagogic principles. The resource demonstrates the inter-relationship of three key skills (working in groups, delivering oral presentations and developing effective listening and interpersonal skills) as it follows a group of five students through a 10 week project to produce an oral presentation. User feedback collected during the pilot phase influenced the design of the resource which can be accessed as a stand-alone resource by individual or student groups, or incorporated into modules as part of a blended learning solution. A mini trailer version has also been created for use on mobile technology.
The resource includes ten episodes, each covering specific challenges that may arise during a group project. The identified learning points are illustrated through short video clips following the students’ journey through the project. Whilst the opening episode highlights the impact of first impressions and non-verbal communication, subsequent episodes consider issues such a group conflict, non-participation, task management, assessment criteria and providing feedback. The final episode involves the students analysing the project and reviewing the contribution they have made to the dynamics and development of the group. The video clips are supported by audio commentaries, discussion points, hints and tips and additional resources that reinforce the learning outcomes for each episode. The emphasis of the resource is to provoke discussion and individual reflection rather than provide solutions.
As an example of effective practice in blended learning this submission includes evidence from a design and delivery perspective. Throughout the pilot phase, staff and student focus groups were held at the universities of Leeds and Bradford and received positive and constructive feedback. Since the launch of the resource, user feedback has demonstrated how the flexibility built in during the design phrase has enabled a variety of approaches to be used in its delivery. 1) Undergraduates on a Social Science degree at the University of Manchester used the resource as part of an online WebCT discussion forum prior to engaging in a community project placement. The discussion forums were tutor moderated and learning objectives were set each week to focus the discussion. Student engagement with the resource was high and the critical analysis and higher level reflective commentaries included in their blog evidenced learning, as students made suggestions based on their observations of the video clips and discuss strategies they hoped to introduce to avoid the mistakes made by the students seen in the video clips. 2) The resource is integrated into face to face teaching session at the University of Leeds, where first year Business School students learn how to engage effectively in group work. Students are allocated into groups and given four weeks to prepare a presentation on Corporate Social Responsibility which is then assessed by the tutor and guest employer. The students evaluated their group work projects as one of the most enjoyable aspects of their module and their assessed reflective portfolios evidence insightful comments on group management techniques and the importance of effective interpersonal skills. 3) Student Union Sabbatical Officers at the University of Bradford attend workshops aimed at improving their effectiveness in group working situations. Learning points are designed around key episodes of ‘Making group–work work’ User feedback and evaluation from these workshops is consistently high. The resource is being used by a number of Universities as part of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the UK and web site statistics show world-wide access.
Learning Effectiveness is demonstrated above. Students evidence greater awareness of the issues affecting successful group working and their critical reflection is improved. Student satisfaction is similarly highly rated as evidenced through user feedback surveys and module evaluation. The flexibility offered by the resource enables academic staff to integrate practice into their curriculum at various points and in a variety of modes, which increases faculty satisfaction. Professional recognition in the UK has been gained through winning the JORUM Learning and Teaching Awards and the Epigeum ‘Effective use of video in learning and teaching award’ http://www.learnhighergroupwork.com/awards.php The resource is open access, has a creative commons licence and is freely available via the internet. Scope and accessibility are enhanced provided the users have access to the software and equipment necessary (see below)
To view the full resource users need internet access to a Flash enabled pc which has audio facilities. Tutors demonstrating the resource would need projection facilities. To view the mobile resource users need a mobile device with internet access capable of downloading ‘You Tube’ video clips.
Depends on user access to the equipment and software identified above.