Effective student collaboration depends on group members’ ability to recognize and to adopt various roles. Students need to be able to recognize behavior that may be hindering the group. They must also be able to adopt roles that assist the group with its task as well as those that promote harmony among the members.
- Leader/Editor: This student is in charge of organizing the final product of the project, be it a paper, a presentation, etc.
- Recorder/Secretary: This person takes notes whenever the group meets and keeps track of group data/sources/etc.
- Checker: Someone needs to double-check data, bibliographic sources, or graphics for accuracy and correctness.
- Spokesperson/Press Secretary/Webmaster
Shared Leadership Approach to Effective Student Collaboration
Shared Leadership, on the other hand, is a dynamic model which suggests that group members can assume different roles at different times depending on the group’s immediate needs. There are both positive and negative roles and these can be assumed by various group members at various times. Here is a list of these roles. You can find a detailed explanation of these roles here.
These are the roles that relate to getting the work done. They represent the different roles needed to take a project step-by-step from initial conception through to action. Individuals may fill several of these roles during the life of a project.
- Information Seeker
- Information Giver
- Opinion Seeker
- Opinion Giver
- Procedural Technician
Personal and/or Social Roles
These roles contribute to the positive functioning of the group.
Dysfunctional and/or Individualistic Roles
These roles disrupt group progress and weaken its cohesion.
- Recognition Seeker
- Disrupter/Playboy or Playgirl
- Help Seeker
- Special Interest Pleader
With a basic understanding of these roles students can recognize disruptive behavior and offer positive responses. You could present this knowledge to them gradually in your introductions to learning activities. In this way students progressively build a positive attitude to group work, collaborate more effectively, and gain a valuable bonus from your course.
You should consider an understanding of effective student collaboration essential to your design of Active Learning Activities. Teachers who design a collaborative activity for their students have a responsibility to monitor group progress and to intervene, when necessary, with some helpful coaching.