Give students an opportunity to clarify and define their team project to ensure a shared understanding of what is required and to start planning. For example, they may be asked to work together on the following questions:
Written ground rules or contracts help students manage team processes and resolve difficulties. Either provide them with ground rules, or ask them to add to your list of ground rules, or ask them to negotiate their own. Examples include:
Additions you might ask teams to negotiate for themselves might include:
If you would like to make ground rules more official, ask students to sign a written version of their team’s ground rules in the form of a team contract. This helps students make a commitment to the rules. Team contracts are particularly useful for long-term projects where students are expected to complete work outside class time.
It can be very useful for students to review their ground rules or team contract regularly to ensure they are staying on track and making progress. In some cases, students might revise the contract or rules to accommodate changes in the project or unexpected developments.
With team work, students learn how to organize and function effectively in meetings, if they don’t already know. Helping students set guidelines for team meetings shows them what is involved in the organization, structure, conduct and follow-up of meetings. In addition, it can significantly affect the success of their group and the quality of group projects.
A set of guidelines for meetings might include the following headings:
The following handout outlines the components of a typical meeting agenda. This can help students create their own agendas and learn how to conduct effective meetings.
What is a meeting agenda?
The meeting agenda is a roadmap for the meeting. It tells participants where they’re headed to help them stay on track. One of the main purposes of a meeting agenda is to give a sense of purpose and direction to the meeting. Typical components of a meeting agenda include:
(Adapted from G. Gibbs (1994), Learning in Teams: A Student Manual, Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford Centre for Staff, p. 9.)