Group activities involve collaborative work in small teams to achieve shared objectives, offering numerous benefits. They enhance students' creative, problem-solving, and critical thinking abilities by leveraging collective knowledge and experiences. Additionally, group activities promote strong communication skills through idea sharing and meaningful discussions, expanding perspectives and deepening understanding. Students also develop a sense of shared responsibility and accountability, learning effective collaboration, task management, and meeting deadlines. By navigating diverse opinions and resolving conflicts, students cultivate effective communication strategies. These experiences prepare them for success in academic and professional contexts where collaboration is essential.
However, incorporating group projects into lectures presents a significant challenge, particularly in large courses, despite acknowledging their immense importance as mentioned earlier. KlickerUZH offers a solution by facilitating group activities and tasks that extend over a lecture or spread over a longer period of time. It supports various aspects such as group formation, distributing the initial situation, and implementing the corresponding questions. Within the KlickerUZH, students have the freedom to form their own groups, enabling them to collaboratively tackle the assigned tasks. This ensures that teamwork is no longer neglected, even in large study courses.
It is no coincidence that cooperative learning is one of the predominant teaching methods worldwide. The positive attributes of this form of instruction are many and not only influence student motivation and achievement, but also strengthen interpersonal relationships among learners (Johnson & Johnson, 2009).
Through the KlickerUZH, students are encouraged to tackle a challenge together and work out solutions as a team. This not only enhances students' problem-solving skills, but also provides an opportunity to develop creative skills (Hämäläinen & Vähäsantanen, 2011). Students learn how to communicate effectively and share their ideas to be successful in a team and achieve common goals. Binkley et al. (2011) demonstrated that these social skills play a crucial role in the contemporary work environment, enabling students to effectively prepare for their careers and thrive in a highly interconnected society. These skills are invaluable for fostering successful professional development and adaptation.
Scenario Description with KlickerUZH
As a lecturer you would like to strengthen group collaborations and see value in having your students work together. Therefore, you decide to use the KlickerUZH to provide Group Activities where students can sign up as groups (of at least two people) and work on the provided tasks together. This can be done during the lecture for smaller tasks or alternatively for a longer period of time during which students can work on a more complex assignment. The following question types can be implemented: Single Choice (SC), Multiple Choice (MC), Kprim (KPRIM), Free Text (FT), and Numerical Response (NR). This is a great opportunity if you want to enable students to have an insight into practical considerations and tasks which they can work on as a team, outside of the traditional lecture.
The teamwork is further encouraged thanks to distributed information. When providing group activities via the KlickerUZH the necessary information needed to solve the task can be distributed between the team members so that they are required to work together and exchange information and ideas.
If you wish to do so, the group activities can be incorporated into a gamification context where students are rewarded for engaging in these tasks.
These kinds of group activities have been implemented in two large first-year lectures at the DBF in 2022 / 2023, with up to 800 students. In these lectures, students had the opportunity to engage in exercises related to real-world scenarios, focused on topics such as company valuation, bonds, shares, and portfolio optimization (as soon as the respective topic was covered in the lecture). Each team member was provided with a portion of the information needed to solve the exercise, resulting in the complete information being available to the group as a whole. The goal was for students to collaborate, analyze the given data and questions, and make decisions collectively. After submitting their calculations and thoughts, the Teaching Center of the DBF provided personalized feedback. Participation in these group activities was incorporated as part of the lecture's gamification concept, therefore, groups that took part in these exercises were rewarded with points.
Our learning was the following:
- Number of groups: Since the group activity was optional and the assessment courses demanded significant attention from students, only a limited number of groups participated in the group activities (autumn semester: 23 groups and spring semester: 6 groups). It is worth considering that there may be more suitable lectures or courses that offer better opportunities for integrating group tasks, given the specific circumstances and requirements.
- Student feedback: In the internal survey, only 20.63% claimed they had joined a group. Of those students who did not select “no opinion” in the question regarding their view on the group challenges, 28.6% found them cool, but 25.71% voted unnecessary. This, again, shows that a select few like the group setting and the extra efforts, but many see no added value with twice as many claiming the challenges are too much effort than requiring the right amount of effort.
- Real-world scenarios: The lecture focused on theory, while the group activity involved working with real data sourced from annual reports or price data from sources like Yahoo Finance. Careful consideration was given when selecting companies and data, recognizing that real-world scenarios can be complex. Simplification may be necessary to make the exercises more manageable within the scope of the course.
- Grading: KlickerUZH enables automatic grading for choice-based question types. However, for numerical response and free text questions, manual correction is required. It is crucial to consider the time and effort needed for manual grading as part of the overall lecture planning process.
- Discussion of results: Given the nature of real-life problems, there may not always be a single solution. This aspect needs to be considered during the correction process and feedback writing. Flexibility and consideration for different approaches or interpretations are often required when assessing the results of group activities based on real-world scenarios.
- Promote and strengthen group collaborations among students, encouraging them to work together as a team and profit from each other's skills and perspectives.
- Offer practical insights and provide students with real-world scenarios where they can apply their knowledge, skills, and teamwork outside of the traditional lecture setting.
- Enable students to develop (transversal) teamwork skills and learn to collaborate efficiently as a group.
- Prepare students for future professional challenges requiring collaboration and teamwork.