How many times, during the reporting back stage after a group activity, does the activity lose momentum and focus? Do you run out of time? Do the reporting back presentations get repetitive and boring? Do students tune out? Do you tune out? Let us consider some best practices for successful and engaging reporting back and wrap-up strategies.
Reporting Back and Wrap-Up
As much as the class group activity needs to be planned, so does the reporting back segment of the class. There are many ways to help students participate in group work, and, we hope, learn from and possibly enjoy the learning right to the end of the activity. Including some of the following strategies will help the overall success of group activities.
- Make your reporting back instructions clear – detail what exactly is to be shared from the group discussion and activity, who is to speak, for how long, etc.
- Determine if you want one new item from each group or their top three items, etc.
- Connect the reporting back to a specific course competency or competencies.
- Call upon groups in a random order.
- Encourage the quieter students to speak or have several students speak from each group.
- If topics are re-occurring, have groups share how their discussions differ from other groups, thereby encouraging a deeper level of learning and understanding of the complexities of the topic. Different contexts and results may be similar or be poles apart.
- Debates can develop from opposing sides of an issue – determine how best to handle this in the larger group setting.
- Ask for evidence of discussion, visual or otherwise, e.g. group notes or poster, a PowerPoint slide, use of the white board, website, photo, graph, chart, picture, etc.
- Ask for creative ways of reporting back to the larger group. You will be surprised how imaginative our students can be, especially if encouraged.
- Allow enough time for all groups to share their findings. There is nothing more frustrating for students then working hard and then not being given enough time to share their discoveries. If you run out of time in one class, ensure time to continue the presentations in the next class.
Wilma Brown, Pedagogical Development Office (PDO)