July 2, 2004, by Teaching at Nottingham

Student roles in small groups

Video >>
There is the sound of many conversations in the room as students work in small groups.

Interviewer: “You did, on this occasion, ask for representatives to come out and share and that went very smoothly, and very well. Does it always?”

Do Coyle: “Well, it’s partly dependent on the briefing, so we come back again to the principles of cooperative learning. Part of that is, if people are going to have roles within the group, they know what those roles are and are clear about them. And I suppose because of the nature of the students – they’re all future teachers – I was trying to model elements of group work and how you might share and represent the ideas and feelings from the group.

“Prior to the session we have what we call “setting ground rules”. So we look at what makes a good teacher, what makes a good learner and what kind of ethos and learning context is most effective. Eventually, through several processes and discussions and negotiation, the students in smaller groups come up with what their ground rules are.

“So, it’s things like:

  • ‘Listen carefully to other people’,
  • ‘Disagree with the idea and not the person’,
  • ‘Switch your mobile phone off’.

“These are what I would call negotiated ground rules and we try and work to those.  It’s about transparency around the learning processs.”

Extract from a lecture

There is the sound of conversation in the room.

Do: “OK, could you come out and then people can hear. Could I have a representative from here, who’s going to talk?… Would you like to come out and take the floor.”

Do: “OK, if you’d like to say which group you’re from, first of all”

Student: “OK, I’m from the group over in the corner…”

Do Coyle (School of Education).

Do is teaching PGCE students in the Dearing building on Jubilee campus. The students are learning to become qualified teachers. Produced July 2004.
This video was originally published as part of PESL’s Teaching at Nottingham collection.

Posted in Small groupsTeaching