While collaborative learning through group work has been proven to have the potential to produce stronger academic achievement than other kinds of learning environments (Johnson, Johnson, & Smith, 2006), it can be challenging to implement successfully because many students come to college without the tools they need to automatically succeed in collaborative learning contexts. One way of providing supportive structures to students in a collaborative learning environment is through assigning roles within group work.
Potential Benefits of Using Assigned Roles in Group Work
Assigning group roles can be a beneficial strategy for successful group work design for a number of reasons:
- Group roles offer an opportunity for high quality, focused interactions between group participants. Participants are more likely to stay on task and pay closer attention to the task at hand when their roles in the collaboration are clear and distinct.
- Group roles provide all students with a clear avenue for participation. Students are less likely to feel left out or unengaged when they have a particular duty that they are responsible for completing. Along the same lines, assigning group roles reduces the likelihood of one individual completing the task for the whole group, or “taking over,” to the detriment of others’ learning.
- Group roles encourage individual accountability. Group members are more likely to hold each other accountable for not completing work if a particular task is assigned to them.
- Group roles allow students to strengthen their communicative skills, especially in areas that they are less confident in volunteering for.
- Group roles can help disrupt stereotypical and gendered role assignments, which can be common in group learning. For example, Hirshfield and Chachra (2015) found that in first-year engineering courses, female students tended to undertake less technical roles and more communicative roles than their male colleagues. By assigning roles during group work, and by asking students to alternate these roles at different points in the semester, students can work past gendered assumptions about themselves and their groupmates.
POGIL: A Model for Role Assignments in Collaborative Learning
One small group learning methodology where the use of group roles is well-defined and researched is the Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) method. The POGIL method calls for groups of three or four students who work in a team on process-oriented guided inquiry activities in which students construct their knowledge through interactions with others. Traditional POGIL roles for group members are provided below (POGIL, 2016).
- Manager or Facilitator: Manages the group by helping to ensure that the group stays on task, is focused, and that there is room for everyone in the conversation.
- Recorder: Keeps a record of those who were in the group, and the roles that they play in the group. The recorder also records critical points from the small group’s discussion along with findings or answers.
- Spokesperson or Presenter: Presents the group’s ideas to the rest of the class. The Spokesperson should rely on the recorder’s notes to guide their report.
- Reflector or Strategy Analyst: Observes team dynamics and guides the consensus-building process (helps group members come to a common conclusion).
For more information on implementing these roles you can visit POGIL’s website.
Other Highly Adaptable Roles to Consider
You can adapt roles for different kinds of group tasks. While the POGIL model is a useful place to start, you may find that the tasks associated with your discipline require other kinds of roles for effective group learning. Adding to or reframing POGIL roles can be beneficial in these contexts. Below are some suggestions for additional roles that might be valuable to a variety of learning situations.
- Encourager: Encourages group members to continue to think through their approaches and ideas. The Encourager uses probing questions to help facilitate deeper thinking, and group-wide consideration of ideas.
- Questioner: Pushes back when the team comes to consensus too quickly, without considering a number of options or points of view. The questioner makes sure that the group hears varied points of view, and that the group is not avoiding potentially rich areas of disagreement.
- Checker: Checks over work in problem solving contexts before the group members finalize their answers.
Strategies for Effective Facilitation of Group Roles
The following suggestions are strategies for effective facilitation of group roles. These strategies are helpful in a wide variety of group work situations, but are essential for group work that will last beyond a single class period, or constitute a significant portion of student grades.
- Be transparent about why you are assigning group roles. This kind of transparency can increase student buy-in by helping them recognize the value in establishing group roles
- Provide students with a list of roles and brief definitions for each role at the beginning of the group work activity. Make it clear which tasks are associated with which roles.
- Alternatively, you may find it helpful, especially in advanced-level classes, to encourage students to develop their own roles in groups based on the tasks that they feel will be critical to the group’s success. This strategy provides the students with a larger level of autonomy in their learning, while also encouraging them to use proven structures that will help them be successful.
- Roles can be assigned randomly through a variety of strategies, from who has the next birthday to color-coded post-it notes, or a place card that points out roles based on where everyone is sitting.
- Circulate early in the class period to be sure that everyone has been assigned a role, and that everyone is clear about what their responsibilities include.
- Be willing to reinforce the given roles throughout the activity. For roles to work, students have to feel as though they will be held accountable for fulfilling those roles. Therefore, it is critical for you to step in if you see someone taking over someone else’s role or not fulfilling their assigned role. Often gentle reminders about who is supposed to be doing what can be useful interventions. For example, if someone is talking over everyone and not listening to their other groupmates, you might say something like “Remember, as a spokesperson, your job is to represent the ideas of everyone in the group.”
- Talk with students individually if their speech or conduct could be silencing, denigrating, or excluding others. Remember: your silence on this issue may be read as endorsement.
- Changing things up regularly is imperative. If you use group roles frequently, mixing up roles throughout the semester can help students develop communication skills in a variety of areas rather than relying on a single personal strength.
- If this is a long-term group assignment, be sure to provide structures for individual feedback for the instructor and other group member on group dynamics. This could be a formal or informal check in, but it’s critical for students to have a space to voice concerns related to group dynamics—especially if this assignment counts for a large portion of their final grade. This feedback might be provided through an anonymous survey in paper form or through a web-based tool like Qualtrics or a Google form. These check-ins can reduce student anxiety about the potential for uneven group participation.
Overall, using assigned roles in group work provides students with a supportive structure that promotes meaningful collaborative learning. While group learning can be challenging to implement effectively, using roles can mitigate some of the challenges associated with learning in groups, while offering students the opportunity to develop a variety of communication skills that will be critical to their success in college and their future careers.
References & Further Resources
Burke, Alison. (2011). Group work: How to use groups effectively. The Journal of Effective Teaching, 11(2), 87-95.
Beebe, S.A., & Masterson, J.T. (2003). Communicating in small groups. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
Cheng, W. Y., Lam, S. F., & Chan, C. Y. (2008). When high achievers and low achievers work in the same group: The roles of group heterogeneity and processes in project‐based learning. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 78(2), 205-221.
Eberlein, T., Kampmeier, J., Minderhout, V., Moog, R.S., Platt, T., Varma-Nelson, P., White, H.B. (2008). Pedagogies of engagement in science: A comparison of PBL, POGIL and PLTL. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 36(4), 262-73.
Hale, D., & Mullen, L. G. (2009). Designing process-oriented guided-inquiry activities: A new innovation for marketing classes. Marketing Education Review, 19(1), 73-80.
Hirshfield, L., & Chachra, D. (2015). Task choice, group dynamics and learning goals: Understanding student activities in teams. 2015 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference: Launching a New Vision in Engineering Education Proceedings, FIE 2015, 1-5.
Johnson, C. (2011). Activities using process‐oriented guided inquiry learning (POGIL) in the foreign language classroom. Die Unterrichtspraxis/Teaching German, 44(1), 30-38.
Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., and Smith, K.A. (2006). Active learning: Cooperation in the university classroom. Edina, MN: Interaction.
Moog, R.S. (2014). Process oriented guided inquiry learning. In M.A. McDaniel, R. F. Frey, S.M. Fitzpatrick, & Roediger, H.L. (Eds.). Integrating cognitive science with innovative teaching in STEM disciplines (147-166). St. Louis: Washington University in St. Louis Libraries.
The POGIL Project. (2017). https://pogil.org/
Springer, L., Stanne, M.E., & Donovan, S.S. (1999). Effects of small-group learning on undergraduates in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 96(1), 21-51.
Business School Information Systems, Technology and Management INFS1602 Information Systems in Business Semester 1 2015 Assignment B THIS IS A GROUP ASSIGNMENT EACH GROUP CONSISTS OF EITHER 2 OR 3 STUDENTS FROM THE SAME WORKSHOP THIS ASSIGNMENT COUNTS FOR 15 PER CENT OF THE AVAILABLE MARKS FOR THE COURSE business.unsw.edu.au CRICOS Code 00098G INFS1602 Information Systems in Business 1 1. Scenario: Due to the exceptional quality of the previous consultancy project (in Assignment A) you have prepared for your client Forever 21 (www.forever21.com), you have been tasked by your consultancy firm to manage another project for same client. The Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Forever 21 is aware that the company’s target market of young female adults possesses a sophisticated fashion sense with ever-changing preferences. She is hence contemplating upgrading the company’s existing supply chain and customer relationship management systems to keep pace with customer demands in order to meet their needs in an effective and efficient manner. She is also a keen follower of technological advances such as cloud-based technology. Her priorities for 2015 are to: (i) Enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the company’s supply network; (ii) Tailor product mix for specific retail outlets (including online stores), and; (iii) Improve customer satisfaction and retention. Learning Outcomes Addressed: Program Learning Outcomes 2 Critical thinking and problem solving Course Learning Outcomes Illustrate how organisations could use IS to improve organisational / managerial efficiency & effectiveness. Propose how an organisation could use information systems and technology (IS/IT) to compete in a global marketplace. 3a Written communication Communicate an argument in oral and written form 2. Requirements: Reprising your role as a junior consultant at your consultancy firm who specialises in information systems, the CIO of Forever 21 has asked you to prepare a report to advise her on the possibility of acquiring cloud-based Supply Chain Management (SCM) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions for the company. Prepare a Business Report with the following structure: 1. Discuss the pros and cons of cloud-based SCM and CRM solutions as compared to their more traditional on-site counterparts. 2. Explain how Forever 21’s customer satisfaction and retention could be improved by leveraging on: (a) cloud-based SCM solution to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the company’s supply network, as well as; (b) cloud-based CRM solution to tailor the company’s product mix to meet market demands. 3. Identify the main IS/IT security, ethics and privacy issues that Forever 21 should take into account when leveraging on cloud-based SCM and CRM solutions as part of an integrated enterprise system strategy. 4. Recommend specific cloud-based SCM and CRM solutions in the market that Forever 21 should adopt. Your recommendations should be based on your analyses in Parts 1, 2, and 3, and should focus on the tools that you have argued business.unsw.edu.au CRICOS Code 00098G INFS1602 Information Systems in Business 2 would be the most beneficial in achieving the CIO’s priorities. Your justification of particular vendors should include a scoring model. In preparing the report, the CIO wants you to compare cloud-based SCM and CRM solutions offered by at least THREE vendors. In other words, you need to research at least three vendors each for cloud-based SCM solutions and for cloud-based CRM solutions. The CIO also wishes you to consider the potential of ‘best of breed’ cloudbased enterprise system solutions (please look up online on what ‘best of breed’ means). It is important that you provide the CIO with information that is customized for her situation rather than producing material that reads like a generic textbook. You should therefore illustrate that you understand the client’s context and priorities. You should articulate any assumptions that you make about your client based on your research and provide the necessary explanations to back up your recommendations. You are required to carefully consider the points that you wish to make in this report. A ‘brain dump’ of all you know is of little value. You should consider using tables and figures to present material whenever suitable as they may help in structuring your argument. In order to prepare your assignment, you have to undertake research. However, you should ensure that you use the information gathered to illustrate your argument; you should not simply describe your research findings. A percentage of the marks available will be awarded for quality research, so you should ensure that your sources are appropriately referenced. 3. Submission Details: Using Moodle Turnitin, each GROUP should submit a single MS WORD document (no other formats such as PDF allowed – PENALTY APPLIES) that includes: (i) A FULLY COMPLETED and SIGNED (by ALL GROUP MEMBERS) cover page (available on Moodle). (ii) The business report. The main body of the reports is expected to be 3,000 words, with an absolute maximum of 3,500 words*. Cover/Title page, table of contents, and executive summary are EXCLUDED from the word count. (iii) NO appendices are required for this assignment and if included, WILL BE INCLUDED in the work count. (iv) An overview (max 500 words*) of HOW the INFS1602 course material was used to prepare the report and additional insights you have gleaned from your own research. This overview is EXCLUDED in the word count. (v) A full set of references used to prepare the report (EXCLUDED from the word count). *Indicate the number of words on the document. Please note that material presented in excess of maximum words will not be taken into account when grading the assignment. DUE DATE is Friday May 29, 2015 at 1200hrs noon. business.unsw.edu.au CRICOS Code 00098G INFS1602 Information Systems in Business 3 Please note that ONE submission per group is required. Multiple submissions from the same group will be considered an invalid submission. A mark of zero will be awarded for assignments submitted by individuals or by groups larger than three. If you have any questions about interpreting the assignment and its requirements, please make use of either the LiC’s or Jill’s (Tutor in Charge) consultation sessions (information of time and venue is available in Course Outline Part A). To avoid confusion and misunderstanding, we WILL NOT be answering such questions about the assignment over email. The originality of the submission will be checked using Turnitin. Please check the originality report generated by Turnitin during the submission process. ALL MEMBERS OF THE GROUP SHOULD SATISFY THEMSELVES AS TO THE ORIGINALITY OF THE FULL ASSIGNMENT PRIOR TO FINAL SUBMISSION. It is the responsibility of the person submitting the assignment to provide other group members with a copy of the originality report generated by Turnitin during the submission process. Please note that Turnitin will only generate an originality report ONCE every 24 hours. So if you submit your file and override your original file in a space of less than 24 hours, you WILL NOT obtain an update on your originality score for the new file. The University regards plagiarism as a form of academic misconduct, and has very strict rules regarding plagiarism. For UNSW policies, penalties, and information to help you avoid plagiarism see: http://student.unsw.edu.au/plagiarism as well as the guidelines in the online ELISE tutorials for all new UNSW students: http://subjectguides.library.unsw.edu.au/elise Submission of Assignment B must be accompanied by a SIGNED cover page provided on Moodle. ALL MEMBERS OF THE GROUPS MUST SIGN the cover page. Digital signatures are NOT allowed. Signatures on the cover page MUST MATCH the ones you signed for your workshop attendance. Groups with missing cover page will obtain an automatic penalty of 10% of the maximum marks available for the assignment. Individual student, whose signature is missing on the cover page, will obtain an automatic penalty of 10% of the maximum marks available for the assignment. Each INDIVIDUAL should provide their tutor with a completed and signed Peer Assessment Sheet (available on Moodle). The peer assessment sheet should be provided to your tutor NO LATER than the end of your week 13 Workshop. Please read carefully, pages 9 and 10 of the course outline Part B about peer assessment. You are advised to keep a copy of each submission. In line with school policy, the LATE SUBMISSION of assignments carries A PENALTY OF 10% OF THE MAXIMUM MARKS FOR THAT ASSIGNMENT PER DAY OF LATENESS (including weekends and public holidays), unless an extension of time has been granted. Applications for an extension of time should be made to the LIC through the online system (see course outline Part B) WITHIN 3 WORKING DAYS OF THE SUBMISSION DATE. You will be required to substantiate your application with appropriate documentary evidence such as medical certificates, accident reports etc. Please note that work commitments and computer failures are usually considered insufficient grounds for an extension. 4. Marking Criteria: The aim of the assignment is to get you to consider the material that you have covered in the course in light of the scenario described in the assignment. The assignment requires you to illustrate your understanding of the course material by making a well-reasoned argument. The report should therefore be analytical rather than descriptive, and should business.unsw.edu.au CRICOS Code 00098G INFS1602 Information Systems in Business 4 explain the reasoning behind the argument made. Marks will be awarded for applying course material rather than reproducing it. The report should have a professional layout and be well presented. It should read like a well-justified consultant report suitable for a business audience rather than an essay. Marks are available as follows: • A well-articulated and justified discussion of the pros and cons of cloud-based SCM and CRM solutions as compared to their more traditional on-site counterparts (15 percent). • A well-articulated and justified explanation of how Forever 21’s customer satisfaction and retention could be improved by leveraging on: (a) cloud-based SCM solution to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the company’s supply network, as well as; (b) cloud-based CRM solution to tailor the company’s product mix to meet market demands (25 percent). • A well-articulated and justified description of the main IS/IT security, ethics and privacy issues that Forever 21 should take into account when leveraging on cloud-based SCM and CRM solutions as part of an integrated enterprise system strategy (15 percent). • A well-justified proposal (including a scoring model) recommending specific cloud-based SCM and CRM solutions in the market that Forever 21 should adopt (25 percent). • An in-depth analysis of how relevant course material and additional insights from your own research were utilized to support the analysis contained in the report (10 percent). • Effective and coherent presentation of information in a format suitable for a consulting report. Adherence to UNSWBS presentation standards including Harvard referencing and the use of acceptable research materials (10 percent). Grade expectations are as follows: Fail: Either the material does not address the question asked or is completely unsuitable. Pass: Answer covers the topic but largely describes/reproduces material. Credit: Answer identifies a potentially relevant solution, but there is little justification of its suitability in the context of the scenario in the assignment and/or the analysis of alternatives is limited. Distinction: A well-articulated case is made for the proposed solution. The suitability of the proposed solution is justified in light of reasonable alternatives. The answer reads like a well-justified report and illustrates synthesis (e.g. a self derived table or figure) and evaluation (e.g. consequences /recommendations) of the material in light of the case scenario. High Distinction: A well-articulated case is made for the proposed solution. The suitability of the proposed solution is well justified in light of reasonable alternatives. The answer reads like a well-justified report and illustrates synthesis (e.g. a self derived table business.unsw.edu.au CRICOS Code 00098G INFS1602 Information Systems in Business 5 or figure) and evaluation (e.g. consequences /recommendations) of the material in light of the case scenario. It also illustrates that you understand some counter arguments to the ones that you have proposed, and can briefly illustrate why the argument that you have proposed is more valid than the one suggested by the counter arguments. 5. References: Please remember to properly cite ALL SOURCES used to prepare the report. For information on how to acknowledge your sources and reference correctly, see: http://www.lc.unsw.edu.au/onlib/ref.html For the UNSWBS Harvard Referencing Guide, see (for best result, DO NOT use Safari to open the link below): http://wwwdocs.fce.unsw.edu.au/fce/EDU/harvard_ref_guide.pdf business.unsw.edu.au CRICOS Code 00098G INFS1602 Information Systems in Business 6