GBP students collaborate on group projects in class. (Photo by Ms. Tincher)
Mark Walker, GBP Student
Most school projects are left in the hands of the students to figure out the problems at hand and get to a final product. But even when the project is finished, the presentation is done, or the answer is right, it is always good to look back on how the pair or group worked together. Were there any apparent strengths or weaknesses, pros or cons?
In The Greater Boston Project, after we do a major project students are asked to reflect on the collaborative work of themselves and peers in the group to assess the functioning of themselves and the group as a whole. We reflect on questions about our peers along the lines of, “How vocal was this person?” and “Did they complete their portion of work?” When reflecting on the group as a whole we are asked questions like, “How was the work spit up?” and “Was criticism given and, if so, how was it taken?” The reflections on these questions are then passed along to the GBP teachers for them to review and compare with others in the groups and their own reflections on the students.
Later, group by group, we are called to meet with one of the three teachers to go over the reflections. These meetings are are majorly a group discussion and teacher instruction on what was good and bad about both the project and, more specifically, the collaborative work that led to it. Helping the us realise our strengths and weaknesses allows us as students to improve ourselves in our group work for future projects. The hope is that these future projects will run smoother, be more efficient, and result in greater overall successful after each meeting.
Personally, through this process I think I have learned more about what really goes into a group presentation. Before, I felt that all it took was the information on the subject at hand and for the group to put it in a slide show. However, by participating in these group meetings and having to reflect back on how everything went, I have learned that there is a lot more to the process. Communication is a huge part of collaboration, not just in making sure people know their portion of work, but also in communicating along the way about how a group wants the presentation to flow and what should be put in or taken out. I have learned that time has to be taken to sit down and thoroughly go through every aspect of a presentation as a team. Without these reflections I would think something like, “The presentation was a bit bumpy but we got it done” and leave it at that. Looking back and analyzing each piece of the project through collaborative reflection and discussion allows us to improve instead of just moving on from it without learning.
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