Group work action plan (English department)

Task’s description
This (ungraded) task can be used at any level to facilitate group work, although students should be at least B2/C1 if you want them to complete the task in the target language. 
The goal of the task is for students to reflect on their role as a group member, to form groups based on complementary preferences and skillsets, to discuss their preferences with their group, and to come up with an action plan (final product) for the group project in which guidelines and a rough timetable for the project are described. The aim of the action plan is also to identify potential challenges for the group as well as ways to navigate these challenges. Pre-task activities and/or guiding questions may be provided to help students write their action plan (see task link) and provide opportunities to focus the task on, for example, intercultural competence, workplace etiquette, autonomous learning or conflict mediation. 
Specific LOs (Learning Outcomes) and/or goals of the task.
– Students reflect on their own group work preferences and attitudes
– Students define what, in their eyes, makes for a good group/team member
– Students discuss their preferences and attitudes with each other 
– Students prepare an action plan for the rest of the block (that is, the duration of the group project)
– Near the end of the project, students reflect on their own and others’ role in the work with the aim to learn (follow-up/post-task)
Sequencing the task
Before the task
– Students should read the description of the group project and have a look at the weekly planner. They should also look ahead more generally and make an overview of their deadlines (for all of their courses) in the coming weeks. This will help them create a timetable for the project with their group. 
– During the group work kickoff meeting, the instructor may lead a brief discussion on the students’ previous experiences with group work. Students reflect on both positive and negative experiences and are encouraged to try to define exactly what made those experiences positive or negative. The next step in the discussion could be for the group to work together to describe the characteristics of a good group member or of successful group collaboration.
– Other pre-task activities may focus on a framework for the action plan task, e.g. intercultural communication, workplace etiquette, conflict mediation, autonomous learning, etc.
During the task
– The first part of the task is individual: Each student takes around 10 minutes to write down for themselves. 
Their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to group work 
Their preferences when working with others (feedback, punctuality, independence, availability)
Optional: Their strengths and weaknesses related to the topic/content of the group work (e.g. debate)
– After this, each student should prepare to introduce themselves to the group, describing in just a few (three) sentences
Who they are as a team member
Their ideal person to work with
Optional: Their strengths and weaknesses related to the topic/content of the group work (e.g. debate)
– Next, the instructor announces a short break in which students are encouraged to mingle (if teaching on-site, leaving the room often helps) and form groups based on the presentations. The aim is for them to find a group of people whose skill set and collaboration preferences complements theirs.
– After the break, the students sit with their group and discuss their strengths, weaknesses, preferences and availability in more detail. Guiding points/questions may include:
Your group’s main goal(s) for this block.
Each group member’s week-by-week availability. 
Each group member’s communication and collaboration preferences (e.g. feedback, decision-making, scheduling), especially related to cultural background.
Each group member’s main skill set – e.g. leader/manager, public speaker, researcher, writer.
Some guidelines for working together in your group:
Means of communication (e.g. whatsapp, email, Google Meet, your group’s Collaborate room on Nestor)?
How long can a message go unanswered? Are you expected to be available outside of normal working hours? 
How often will you meet? How long should each meeting be?
Whole group vs individual work – how will you make sure that each member of the group contributes to every assignment?
What will you do if an issue comes up? How will you rebuild trust within your group? 
– Finally, the students put together an action plan which answers the guiding questions and which also includes a timetable with the meetings and deadlines for the project.
After the task
– Students hand in their action plan, but it is not graded. 
– After the task, students work on the actual group project together. If problems come up, they can fall back on their action plan, and the instructor can use the plan to mediate any conflicts.
– At the end of the course (or at the end of the project, if the project doesn’t span the whole course), the instructor may have the students reflect on their group work by means of a group discussion, a Google Forms survey or a written reflection. The aim of the reflection should be to not only evaluate how well the group worked together during the project, but also to identify takeaways that can be applied to future projects.
Additional comments
Instructors may experiment with automated group assignments (or assign groups themselves) based on a questionnaire.
A room (digital or on-site) for the students to meet, guiding questions for the action plan (to be determined by the course instructor, see full task description)
*Note: If you want to add the original document with the task, please paste the link here: