Using Classroom Groups Successfully

Student Resources

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Student Resources

Steps to creating a successful student work group

  • Step 1

    Name your group

    Something descriptive of who you are and/or the goals you hope to meet.

  • Step 2

    Decide 3-5 norms/rules that everyone expects to abide by

    These can be clarify expectations about how to use time, how to make decisions, and/or what your group values.

  • Step 3

    Decide 2-3 goal(s) of the group

    What do you hope to accomplish as a group?

  • Step 4

    Decide who will play what roles

    1. Organizing – Keeps track of tasks, deadlines and assignments; keeps group on task.
    2. Envisioning – Helps generate new ideas, links solutions/suggestions to innovate.
    3. Spanning – Connects with others outside the group.
    4. Social – Pays attention to relationships within the group, makes sure everyone has a chance to participate; defuses conflict; adds humor.

  • Step 5

    Determine tasks to be accomplished with deadlines

  • Step 6

    Decide who will undertake each of those tasks

  • Step 7

    Understand your group.

    Now that your group is “rolling,” consider from time to time, getting to know each other by comparing notes about the self-quizzes given below. Everyone should choose the same ones to do and be comfortable talking about their results.

Conflict Management Quizzes

1. Conflict management quiz from CU Boulder

Figures it out for you – uses animals (owl, mouse, etc.)

2. Conflict management quiz from North Carolina State Univeristy

Have to do the math but uses widely accepted conflict styles.


1. University of Michigan

2. Very simple ideas but with some good links for more depth from Indeed


1. How could different conflict management styles/expectations create misunderstandings within your group?

2. How could they help your group deal with conflicts more effectively?

3. Consider creating 1-2 “rules” about group expectations during disagreements. Remember disagreements are good since it means you are considering alternative perspectives, which is a primary reason for using a group in the first place. A group with no conflict is likely not going to produce a good product. But, conflict does not need to mean hurt feelings.

Picturing your group: SYMLOG

The SYMLOG "maps" where group members typically fall on three dimensions: Task-oriented vs. Emotionally expressive, Friendly vs. Unfriendly, and Dominant vs. Submissive Understanding how people tend to operate can help you know what to expect from each other as well as consider how you can help each other contribute productively to the group.

1. Each person should complete the abbreviated SYMLOG form and then calculate where they lie on the each axis as well as how large their circle should be.

2. Create a document similar to this graph in a shared space (Brightspace, Google Docs, OneDrive, Teams) so everyone can add their circle to the graph.


1. What people who have very large circles compared to others may need to consider?

2. What should people who are very task-oriented keep in mind when working with others who are very emotionally expressive?

3. If you have people who are more on the “unfriendly” side (meaning, they are not generally interested in socializing during task groups), how can they contribute effectively to the group?

SYMLOG example image

Personality Test

1. True Colors Test

Equates personalities with colors.

2. NERIS Personality Type Test

Similar to Myers-Briggs.


1. How might the differences in personalities create opportunities for the group to function more effectively?

2. How might the differences create challenges for group members?

3. How can you navigate those challenges?