Forming student groups through speed-dating
Keywords: group formation; icebreaker.
Aims and Rationale
The speed-dating activity provides an informal space for students to get to know each other for the context of ICH learning and as a result, enable students to identify who they would like to work with. Group formation can be a powerful ice-breaker, especially when carried out in the first day of an educational experience and/or if the students don’t know each other well or even if they do.
Learning Outcomes and Associated Areas of Knowledge
Recognize the value of diverse backgrounds within a multidisciplinary environment
Formulate and construct working relationships based on a consideration of disciplinary interests and skills
Practice communication and collaboration skills within a limited time framework
21st Century skills
- Collaboration and Communication
- Equality and Diversity
Depending on the number of students, a medium to large sized room with lots of chairs (it may get to tiring to stand for the whole activity).
Allocate a short amount of time for the students to interview each of the other students (we limited each interview at three minutes for a classroom size of 18 students). At the start, each student sits in front of another, and then one row switch position (if the number is odd, a student will rest in each turn). After every student will have interviewed any other in the opposite row, break up the two rows in further four rows, and restart the exercise as before.
Remind the students to give time for their partner to talk and ask questions. The questions asked should be similar to a mini job-interview and should be based on criteria such as diversity (background, gender, etc.), technical skills, commitment and communication skills.
It’s a good idea to assign a number to each student before starting so to keep things tidy and organised.
At the end of the activity, allocate time for the students to self-organize and create their teams using the findings of their interviews.
Students may tend to pick up people to which they get along personally or know outside the school. Emphasize how it is important to select the right partners from a professional standpoint, because during the rest of the experience for a successful outcome the skills will have more weight than personal affinity.
Another tendency may see the students select partners that have a similar background. This is a recipe for failure in a multidisciplinary environment. The best groups will be composite and with people complementing each other, as the skills required are various and no student will mostly likely hold all of them at once (ability to code, ability to design, knowledge of humanistic subjects, critical thinking, familiarity with qualitative methods, communication skills, etc.).
Assessment for Learning
After the main activity and once the groups have been created, asking the students to describe their group composition and report back the main reasons for this will enable them to articulate their reasoning which will make explicit achieving learning aims linked to diversity and interdisciplinarity.