1. Characteristics of a group

1.12 Tasks

If an aim is to represent a bit more than good intentions, it must be related to a corresponding task. The task specifies the activity in which the students individually or collectively are engaged. It is what must be done in order to achieve an aim. Not enough attention or imagination is usually given to specifying tasks in group teaching. The tendency is to assume the task is simply one of discussing a topic. Yet a wealth of stimulating tasks, or their key verbs, may easily be found if one of the taxonomies of educational objectives is referred to, for example: identify, contrast, predict, select, differentiate, organise, judge, criticise, and so on. If the aim for a group meeting is to develop awareness of different strategies for solving problems, a suitable set of group tasks might be:

  • to try to solve a given problem o to monitor the strategies used
  • to share the findings and compare with research evidence
  • to draw up a set of guidelines on problem solving strategies

Tasks will vary in quality and quantity. Some are too difficult or too lengthy to be tackled in a given time; others are best done individually rather than by the group. There are tasks which demand no more than a 'surface' approach of students while others require a 'deep' or 'holistic' style of argument. It is part of the tutor's job to select tasks accordingly.

  • Questions to ask about tasks include:
  • What prior tasks, for example, writing, reading, consulting, and so on, were required?
  • How thoroughly were they done?
  • What tasks were set at the meeting.
  • Were they clear and attainable within the time allowed?
  • Did the tasks take into account the students' developmental needs? Did they encourage imaginative and deep thinking?
  • What tasks were agreed at the end to be done for the next meeting?

<< 1.11 Aims | 1.13 Climate >>