Take Student Engagement to the Next Level with STEM Group Roles

Take Student Engagement to the Next Level with STEM Group Roles

Student group work can be a disaster, even during engaging activities like STEM challenges.

Having clearly defined group roles promotes meaningful collaborative learning for all group members and provides students with opportunities to develop communication skills as they learn to work as a team.

STEM Challenge Group Roles

Why Should You Use Group Roles During STEM Challenges?

  • Group roles create an opportunity for high quality, focused interactions between group members.

  • Students are more engaged during the STEM challenge.

  • It reduces the chances of one group member taking over the challenge causing a detriment to the learning of the other group members.   

  • It encourages accountability as students feel personally responsible for their role and group members are able to hold each other accountable as well. 

STEM Challenge Group Roles

How do you begin implementing group roles?

Before implementing group roles explain to students up front why you are assigning the roles. If students understand the why behind group roles it will increase student buy-in and help them see the value in it.

Next, provide students with a list of roles along with a brief explanation of each role. You can use our STEM role descriptions. Make sure that students understand the responsibilities associated with each role. At the start of each STEM challenge be sure that all students have a role and that they understand their role.

During the challenge, circulate around the room and hold students accountable for their role. Accountability is important if you want students to take their role seriously. One way to hold students accountable is to have each group member complete a survey at the end of the challenge about how the group completed their roles.

STEM Challenge Group Roles

How do you decide who will do what role?  

There are many different ways to assign students roles. Here are three possible options:

  1. Have the students in the group decide amongst themselves. 

    TIP: If two group members want the same role give them strategies to work it out such as playing rock paper scissors.   

  2. The teacher can assign group roles.

    TIP: For example, the person in each group with the longest hair might be assigned the role of head architect.

  3. Group roles can also be assigned randomly.

    TIP: One way to do this is with color coded Post-it notes. 

No matter how roles are assigned be sure that students have the opportunity to try out different roles throughout the year.

Imagine your students effectively communicating and collaborating during STEM challenges. Engage all students in the challenge as they practice life-long communication and team work skills. Everything you need to get started is included in our STEM Challenge Group Roles resource including group role name tags, group role descriptions, and student surveys. Get the resource and see the difference it makes in how you run your STEM challenges!

For more STEM ideas, inspiration, and collaboration with other STEM teachers be sure to join our FREE Facebook group Elementary STEM Teachers Club!

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