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What size should groups be?
Most faculty who work with collaborative learning suggest groups of 4-5 students. Larger groups may allow some students to "loaf" and may be more difficult to coordinate, especially if the students are expected to meet outside of class. Smaller groups may allow each student to participate more, but may lose some of the benefits of peer learning.
- More on group size considerations from the University of Wisconsin.
How much structure should I provide?
There's no hard and fast answer here. Some faculty offer little structure, preferring instead that students determine their own processes and procedures. Others find that groups can work more efficiently with greater structure. Harvard's Bok Center for Teaching and Learning provides handouts for both faculty and students with suggestions for structuring and managing group work.
Related questions (and answers from the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research)
What if I encounter student resistance?
Some students resist peer learning and may even see it as an abdication of a faculty member's responsibility to teach. It may be helpful to introduce group work by talking about why you're including it in the course.
The Wisconsin Center for Educational Resources offers additional suggestions for preparing students.
Wisconsin's Center for Education Research has more information on: