Making Group Work ‘Work’: Reflections on Sipping Point Conversations

By Clare Gormley

Last month at The Sipping Point our teaching conversations focused on the theme of ‘Making Group Work ‘Work’’. This particular topic attracted the most people yet to the Sipping Point so for those who couldn’t be there,  I think it’s well worth reflecting on some of the points that emerged.

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Some of the participants at the DCU St Patrick’s Campus Sipping Point

At DCU’s St Patrick’s campus, the session opened up with the irrepressible Martin Molony (School of Communications) asking us to consider common group work stereotypes. No doubt familiar to many of those in the audience, these ‘types’ ran the gamut from the uber enthusiasts to the seemingly work shy. We were presented with the common challenges of group work which included varying abilities, varying skillsets, varying motivations, and varying commitment levels. In a nice about-turn of transforming a negative into a positive, we were asked to encourage students to think about these challenges as potential opportunities and indeed enablers of successful group work.

The inspiring Susan Pike (DCU School of STEM Education, Innovation & Global Studies)  walked us through several examples of different types of group work projects she has been running in geography teacher education. These ranged from projects that had small groups of students getting to socialise and know each other through completing a local field trip, to class-wide activities that got everyone engaged in a collective, high-energy buzz about the posters they created. The confidence-building effects of these activities proved a wonderful counterpoint to all the negative ‘stuff’ we tend to hear about group work in HE, reminding us of why it’s so important to include it in curricula in the first place.

Continue to read more of Clare’s reflections on this event at her personal blog, “Learning Rush“.

INTEGRITY Project Update: Zugdidi Workshop

The Teaching Enhancement Unit (TEU) is excited to be one of four university partners working on an Erasmus+ INTEGRITY project (funded under KA2 strand). The lead partner is Ilia State University, Georgia, in collaboration with 15 other Georgian universities. The other three partners include: University of Roehampton (UK); Uppsala Universiten (Sweden); and Universitaet Wien (Austria).

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As part of the wider project TEU is involved in developing a resource toolkit to support academics design assessments which actively encourages academic integrity. The suite of resources currently being advanced for the toolkit includes a literature review; a set of twelve principles and related explanations;  interactive glossary; self and team checklists; animated scenarios; VLE instructional resource; and a collection of case studies.

Last week project partners met in Shota Meskhia State Teaching University of Zugdidi to share progress on the project and to celebrate the project’s first anniversary. During the meeting TEU staff shared their contributions to the project; more specifically, the Literature Review and  Academic Integrity Principles. In addition we shared the TEU INTEGRITY project website with all partners for review and input on other resources as they are being developed. The resources were well received and we are now in a position to further enhance the toolkit in the coming months. The two-year project commenced in October 2017 and we are ahead of target to have the final toolkit ready for piloting in Spring 2019.