Though there are possible exceptions, in general group activities don’t work “out of the box” — they require some careful thought and preparation to ensure that they run as intended.
Meet weekly with course Learning Assistants.
It is important for faculty in a course supported by Learning Assistants to meet weekly with Learning Assistants (together with any Learning Assistants that are involved with the course) in order to reflect on the previous week, prepare for the upcoming week, and to listen and get feedback from Learning Assistants about how students are interacting with the course material. These meetings are also useful for creating a sense of community and to support Learning Assistants in the challenges of working with students in group environments. You may find it useful to look at the the instructor notes for the first joint Learning Assistants/Teaching Assistant meeting in chemistry (Acrobat (PDF) 123kB Jul27 10)
Discuss common student ideas. Look through students’ answers to prior semesters’ assessments in order to get a sense of how the students might approach the various content of the course.
Run through the activity.
With most activities, it is a very good idea to run through the activity with the Learning Assistants in its …