Part 2: Characteristics of an Effective Group and Expected Behaviors and Responsibilities for Group Members
Successful cooperative learning doesn't just happen. It takes extra effort by each group member. For group work to be successful, individual group members need to have clear goals, plans and roles, as well as the ability to work together, mutual accountability, and the other elements of effective groups.
Goal Setting and Planning
As stated earlier, to make group work effective and successful, groups need to have well-defined goals and a plan for meeting those goals.
Another important element of success is for each team member to have an assigned role. Groups tend to function better if member roles are defined and assigned during the first meeting. These roles help all members to actively participate in the group process. However, each member doesn't need to be stuck in one role. Consider rotating roles, depending on the goals and activities of the meeting, so each member can experience all five functions of the group.
Five Roles Of Group Members
(Individual Roles that Help Groups Stay on Task)
Taskmaster - makes sure the group stays on task .
Sample Taskmaster statements:
- "Have we gone over Section 3 yet?"
- "That's interesting, but our job is to . . ."
- "We need to move on now, we're running out of time."
Checker - verifies that everyone agrees with an answer or approach and that all understand.
Sample Checker statements:
- "Everyone initial if you agree."
- "Mary, do you understand?"
- "John, could you describe that on your own?"
Gatekeeper - makes sure each person has a turn and that all participate about equally - no loafers and no bullies.
Sample Gatekeeper statements:
- "That's interesting, Joe. Do you agree, Susan?"
- "Let's hear from Pete."
Praiser - encourages others to share ideas, give opinions, and work hard. Makes sure members know they have done a good job and are appreciated. Praises ideas and helping behaviors.
Sample Praiser statements:
- "I know we can do this. Let's keep trying!"
- "We only have two sections left to go."
- "Great idea!"
Recorder - documents responses once all agree. Completes group evaluation forms.
Sample Recorder statements:
- "Were the letters D,B,E,A,C?" Would you mind saying them again so I write them down correctly?"
You can even have a group of more than five - there are lots of additional roles additional members can play that will be helpful - roles like Gofer (go get stuff), Clarifier/Paraphraser, Noise Monitor, Researcher, Elaborator, Prober, and Integrator - just to name a few.