George Lucas Educational Foundation

Team Based Learning

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Team Based Learning-Group Learning Tasks
Team Based Learning takes on a new way to learn in the classroom. Group work is needed to further implement the intended goals therefore there are many components and structural decisions that are needed to aid the group towards successful learning. Group roles need to be established in order for the group to advance toward their learning outcome. The six roles are which are the most important are initiating, seeking information or opinions, giving information or opinions, questioning, clarifying, and summarizing. These roles help to accent the importance of communication in the group. Group atmosphere is also another important component which helps support the group roles listed above. Staying on topic while supporting and compromising opinions will help maintain an active learning environment which benefits all of the group members. Group leadership as a whole and also broken down to one member is a very important role because it helps keep the group focused on the main task and helps create a structural work environment where each member knows and is comfortable within their role. Being able to put in place an RAP, readiness assurance process, allows working with others yet each member of a group has a unique perspective on each subject. This helps other group members to think beyond their natural way and allows others to help build upon their original idea. Within all this a successful community of practice, groups that are informally bound by what they do together, is created and the functionality of the group runs smoothly.

Group Roles
There are six main roles that contribute to group work. These six roles are initiating, seeking information or opinions, giving information or opinions, questioning, clarifying, and summarizing. A person who initiates in a group is usually the person who takes the first step in determining what the goal and final project will consist of. This original initiation sets the pace for the rest of the project. Seeking and giving information are also very important to group work. These two things establish the importance of communication between the group. If one person has an idea of something that would benefit another member they must share this information. This enables each person to feel comfortable among the group. Questioning and clarifying are two roles that are also based off of communication. These roles encourage the members of the group to ask if they have a question. It also encourages the group members to speak up if they believe an idea may have a flaw. Summarizing is another important role in group work; by summarizing the group shows that they know the subject well enough to highlight the important parts in just a few sentences.

As a group we looked into these roles and found some high and low points of the ideas. We decided a very high point of this is the emphasis on the importance of communication. In our opinion, communication is the most important attribute for a group to have. Without communication the goal would not be achieved. This is a very strong point of this idea; communication is key to working successfully in a group. However, we also found a low point in this idea. This is the lack of focus on the listening that is required in group work. We believe if a listening role were added, this problem could be easily fixed. Listening is an important role in group work because each member needs to know what the other members of the group are also working on. Group members are there for the benefit of the group; they are not just for the division and assistance of one’s own work. Knowing that each member is expected to respect and listen to the others also establishes a sense of worth in the group so each member feels as if they are needed.

Group Atmosphere
The group atmosphere supports the roles and the roles support the atmosphere. Other important roles include making the atmosphere be supportive while observing, mediating, reconciling, compromising with each other. Being able to work in a supporting atmosphere that encourages response and feedback not only strengthens the group functionality but allows group roles to be carried out. Observing how other group members are taking the information and asking questions about any doubt or concerns helps to guide group members. Meditating and recognizing differences helps to even out any unbalanced issues and allows for growth. When this is done successfully this allows a plan to already be put into place in case the same or another issue were to arise. Reconciling disagreements and then thinking about positive and shared views allows for group members to move forward and to reduce any tension. Compromising on and outcome and modifying opinions to stay on topic allows for further investigation into that topic.

Being too personal in a group setting is seen to many as an obstacle that doesn’t allow for work to be done effectively or efficiently. Making a personal comment or adding humor can be allowed but only during correct times. Making personal comments about one’s personal life is usually frowned upon in group atmosphere. Personal comments that relate to the topic can be seen as a refresher or even a new door to open when stuck on a topic. Humor can be a tension reliever at times to direct attention constructively and not seen as being off topic. What needs to be considered is the duration of the humor and making sure no other group members are offended by the remarks. The overall atmosphere is a value setting in which when its strong group work can be efficient and effective.

Group Leadership
While one member of the group must become the leader and keep the group focused and on task, it is up to the group in whole to establish and facilitate total work corporation. The roles for the leader of the group are as follows, he or she must be able to get all work organized so that it may be done. The leader must encourage everyone’s cooperation by maintaining a close relationship and directly visualizing the work being done for a clear picture. Not only this but the single group leader must be responsible for both maintaining a positive atmosphere and anticipating what materials or other resources will be needed to complete all the tasks. Lastly the group leader has to keep everyone on a schedule so they may complete all the tasks required on time, which is done by creating a schedule for any events such as breaks, lunches, or anything else that is needed. However this is not enough as the group in whole must take a proactive approach to the task. Common concerns with group work are as follows, how do I fit in, who will make the decision, and how much influence will I have. We see successful groups accomplish tasks by doing this following, giving each member the ability to express themselves and all ideas they have to the group. This allows for creativity to flow without judgement, and makes the work and its concepts more universally driven throughout the entire group. Any differences had are to be figured out by any group members that are in dispute, and to do so respectfully of one another's opinions. Lastly successful groups engage and create ways to make everyone feel involved and held responsible for the end result of the task. All of these together allow for a group to complete and interact on a goal successfully with a professional manner.

As a group in whole we did see points in this that we thought were very good and others that we found could be improved upon. One thing we did like was that a successful group has to be able to get along and be understanding. Everyone has to be respectful and considerate to others opinion, and what this facilitates is an environment for the group work to truly take everyones influence in and complete a task as a single unit without favoring only one members ideas. We also liked that a leader is only mean to identify possible issues and keep everyone on task, not just run the group and be solely responsible for its outcome. Things we didn’t like were how the group leader was responsible for all the required materials, we felt this was something that each member should be delegated for to different required needs. Lastly we thought that while disputes should be handled between the individual persons involved it in the end should be handled as a group as it ultimately affects everyone.

The Readiness Assurance Process should be incorporated into classroom settings because it is a new approach to learning. The idea of the Readiness Assurance Process is for an individual to prepare themselves for group work, by doing their own preparation before class activities. Several individuals will be placed in one group, that will carry out different strategies towards learning. A group will complete tests, projects, and assessments together. Along with these tasks, the group will complete building a case, using their own content, figuring out why they chose a specific answer. Working in a group not only benefits the group members, but also helps others in the class, by different ways of viewing a topic.
We, as a group, saw many spectacular opportunities by working in a group. Working with others who do not have the same work ethic as each other is difficult, but is needed in a classroom setting because it sets students up for working with co-workers in the real world. Collaborating with different minds sets up the opportunity for many different ideas that would not have happened if one was to work by themselves. Along with working with others, each member of a group has a unique perspective on each subject, making another member of the group think outside of the box. A major plus to this asset of learning is the idea of appeals. Previously stated earlier, because there are so many different ways to view a subject, a group may put down an idea they would think is correct, but a teacher did not have the same exact answer. With an appeal, the students are able to share why they think their idea is right, showing the teacher that there can be many ways to answer a problem. The negative side of the Readiness Assurance Process is that although group work is enforced, some people do not work well with groups, making it a difficult adjustment. Because group members all work differently, a person who is punctual will have to get used to a procrastinator. The Readiness Assurance Process should be brought into classrooms because it sparks new ideas in students and pushes them outside of their comfort zone.

With each of the components and structural designs listed above being implemented the group within itself will become what is considered a successful community of practice. Group work is seen throughout work, school, home and many other places in which people are informally bound together and share a mutual engagement. Although the mutual engagement participation is somewhat chosen by the people involved, successful outcomes are sought and strived for by all members of the group. With being prepared with effective roles that contribute to the group’s main purpose and respecting the group atmosphere will allow the group to meld together and work through their tasks efficiently. Group leadership helps to develop a set of operations to help respond to personal concerns, group decision concerns or group member concerns which also allows the group to perform effectively. A readiness assurance process promotes an environment where failure is allowed but growth is gained through teaching by mistake and demands a lot more with active learning. Being able to take concepts and apply them not memorize them creates a higher standard throughout team based learning. When these components and structural designs become active that is when active learning is available and then an overall goal is reached.

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magrobb's picture

Who on earth wrote this? The non-standard punctuation and poor grammar are an offense to all teachers who believe in the importance of clear, concise writing.

God's Gift to the Antichrist's picture

For shame!

Never mind the grammatical errors, this article is phony! It's all pretentious terms and pompous phrases and no substance. "When these components and structural designs become active that is when active learning is available and then an overall goal is reached." HA! It sounds like it was itself written by a group of students doing a boring homework assignment where they have nothing to say but need to say it in at least 750 words. Or perhaps it's a deliberate parody of edutopia.

Amber von Nagel's picture

Hi all,

This post was written by an Edutopia community member. Our community discussions are an open forum for people to share their thoughts, ideas, and questions about education. Discussion posts don't go through our usual editorial process, and therefore may have a few errors you don't typically see in our editorial content.

This is a gentle reminder to keep the conversation civil and refrain from making any personal attacks.



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