Student Roles: Democratizing Group Work

By defining student roles in group work, the teacher can support each student to be successful and support a steady work pace for each group
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About This Strategy

Developing team roles is a strategy that helps students take individual responsibility for a shared group goal. By designating roles within the collaborative groups, the teacher can help ensure that all team members take ownership of the group's work. Identifying, explaining, assigning, and executing group roles are an important element of group norms and collaboration at any grade-level.

Implementation Steps

15 minutes
  1. Divide your students into groups based on your intended goal or outcome.

  2. Assign a team role to each student in the group. Some examples of team roles include: Resource Manager, Facilitator/Leader, Recorder/Note Taker, Task Manager/Timekeeper, Presenter, etc.

  3. Review or develop with the class as a whole what the expectations are for each team role. General guidelines for this include (See more examples of group roles in the resources below):

    1. Resource Manager - Makes sure the team has all materials needed to complete the task

    2. Facilitator - Starts the team work by reading the problem or instructions aloud, keeps everyone focused on the work, alerts the teacher if the group has any questions or stuck points

    3. Recorder/Reporter - Takes notes for the team during the work, reports the results to the teacher or class

    4. Task Manager - Helps the team synthesize their ideas, keeps track of the time

  4. Display the team role norms either in paper form with each group or in the front of the class where students can reference the expectations throughout the activity.

  5. Throughout the team activity, rotate around the room to monitor students as they engage in the activity. If you observe students not following the role protocol, redirect behaviors.

  6. As you observe students displaying exemplar role behaviors, acknowledge those with the class

    1. "I noticed that John was acting as a task manager and helped redirect his group towards their goal when they were struggle to stay focused."

  7. When the activity is over, debrief the roles with students. You can use the "PBL Daily Progress and Work Report" resource below as a guide for developing these reflection questions.

    1. Discuss what went well and any struggles they had within the groups.

    2. Have students reflect on what felt easy in their roles and what felt difficult.

Additional Resources:

Collaborative Learning Guide (Source: ISU.edu)

Evaluation of Student Group Work

This strategy can be used to evaluate student collaboration and engagement during group work. By having the teacher evaluate student collaboration and engagement, students are held accountable for their contributions, time management, and engagement during a team activity.

Implementation Steps:

  1. Create a rubric for each student role within the team.

  2. When assigning student roles and norming the expectations with the class, review the rubric with the students.

  3. Throughout the activity, evaluate the student collaboration and contribution based on the rubric.

  4. Meet with students after the activity to discuss their scores and reflect on their individual engagement and contribution in their team.

Additional Resources:

Rubric for Assessing Group Members (Source: noctrl.edu)

Group Work Rubric (Source: ReadWriteThink.org)

Questions to Consider

  • How could group roles help students take individual responsibility for a shared goal?

  • How could you ensure group roles are being used effectively?

  • How do you identify which student gets which role?

  • What could be challenging for students when they have specific roles within a group? How can you support those challenges?