In his popular eNewsletter, Tomorrow’s Professor, Rick Reis provides information on a wide variety of teaching and learning topics. In a recent post, he provided an excerpt on how to form student groups from a new book, A Guide to Teaching in the Active Learning Classroom: History, Research, and Practice (2016), by Paul Baepler, J.D. Walker, D. Christopher Brooks, Kem Saichaie, and Christina I. Petersen.
The authors note that group work is a common component when integrating active learning in a class and discuss four approaches for group formation: random, instructor-generated, self-selected, and mixed. They examine the pros and cons of each strategy but conclude that no one method is a perfect strategy. Instructors need to consider the composition of their courses, the nature of the group work, and even the configuration of the classroom in determining which strategy will best fit their students’ needs and their course’s learning objectives.