Active Teaching Lab Recap: Remote group projects — 10 ways to improve

Thu January 28, 2021

How can we create small-group learning that fosters students’ interaction without forcing students’ dependence on other students’ skills, availability, contributions, and punctuality? Our January 28, 2021 Lab addressed the five principles for remote group projects. 

Five principles for Remote group projects

  1. Protect trust-building interactions: Any new group needs to start with “Interaction, not dependence” — time and low-stakes experiences interacting with each other to learn to work well together. It’s very important during this phase that they’re able to take small risks without great consequence, and that failures by individuals do not sink others.
  2. Spotlight expertise: Help students connect projects to their own specific skills, interests, values, dreams, and “islands of expertise” (Crowley & Jacobs, 2002)
  3. Foster sharing: Intragroup and intergroup transparency provides both self/group checks and inspirations. When students see what others are doing (models) they often step up to match or try to exceed — the bar is raised.
  4. Encourage Risk-taking: Set up projects that allow low-stakes deep exploration. In order to uncover and understand underlying systems, learners need to experience both success states and failure states. If they’re afraid the failure states will jeopardize their grade they won’t take the risks to reach that deeper level of understanding.
  5. Structure Accountability: If your group projects require interdependence within a group, provide structures to help students document and differentiate their contributions.

To learn more and discover new resources, visit the session’s activity sheet.


Find out more about Active Teaching Labs here.