Bruno Cesar responded to my initial interview post to express an interest in learning teams for managing large classes so I'm posting a separate blog entry to encourage others to share their experiences.I first started using learning teams several years ago when I taught a group of students (50) who were studying a masters degree in strategic project management, which included learning how to manage team projects. The students were organised into learning teams to provide 'loop input', i.e. by learning in teams and completing team assignments they would experience team working and understand how it related to the project management concepts they were finding out about on their degree.I was teaching a module in research skills, helping students to read critically, write evidence-based essays and carry out research for their dissertations. It wasn't possible to give detailed feedback on indivudual performance to 50 students but it was possible to provide evaluative checklists which enabled team members to give each other feedback on their performance. Students on masters degrees tend to cohere into a tight knit group, because they are all facing the same pressures, so it was not difficult to encourage them to rely on their team members for support.However, it was crucial to formalise the team working by asking teams to write contracts specifying how they would work together, by setting team assignments and by using peer evaluation of the contribution of each individual to adjust their marks in team assignments. The peer evaluation created challenges for students whose contribution had been judged to be minimal and for teams who were not working well together. However the students recognised that they were getting valuable experience which they could transfer to future work contexts and they were given support to improve the way their team members worked together.During class input sessions I began to have the feeling that I was teaching twelve large students rather than fifty students organised into teams of six.I guess one comment might be that this kind of classroom organisation works for mature students on masters courses who have very clear goals for their learning and can appreciate the value of the activity. Perhaps it would not work so well for younger students with less clear goals. What do you think?
Submitted 9 years 6 months ago by Olwyn Alexander.