This KB document is part of a larger collection of documents on active learning. More Active Learning documents
Using Analytic Teams activity to facilitate problem-solving in a classroom
|Instructor Prep Time||Medium|
|Student Activity Time||Low|
|Instructor Response Time||Low|
|Complexity of Activity||Medium|
|Room Considerations||Movable tables and chairs|
Analytic Teams have members of a group assume roles and perform tasks while critically reading an assignment. Roles such as summarizer, connector, proponent, or critic focus on activities within an analytic process. It can be particularly useful when the teacher assigns roles that exist within the norms of the discipline.
Use it when you want...
- Students to understand the different activities that constitute a critical analysis,
- To focus on learning and to perform one aspect at a time,
- To prepare students for more complex problem-solving assignments in which they may assume multiple roles, or
- To increase and equalize participation levels among group members.
What students will need
- No special requirements for this approach.
The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate an Analytic Teams learning activity within a classroom.
- Select an assignment that requires an analytical process. Break the process down into parts:
Proponents: List the points you agreed with and state why.
Critics: List the points you disagreed with or found unhelpful and state why.
Example Givers: Give examples of key concepts presented.
Summarizers: Prepare a summary of the essential points.
Questioners: Prepare a list of substantive questions about the material.
- Determine whether you could perform each assigned role and whether each is sufficiently challenging.
- Determine how groups will be formed.
- Create a template for the activity using Google Docs.
- Form student groups of four or five. Assign each individual in the team a specific role and job assignment.
- Present the lecture, show the video, or assign the reading.
- In groups, have them complete the assignment.
- Give teams class time for members to share their findings and present analyses.
- Review student analysis or formal presentation of findings.
- Provide feedback/grade to the group or individual based on the quality of the analysis.
- Summarize student performance in the next class. Tell them how these skills will affect their future work, and make suggestions on how students can improve their analytic process.
Accessibility and Room Considerations
In General Biology, the professor wants to help students think critically about the connections between biology and sociology. He uses Analytic Teams to help. As he reviewed the course, he identified a particular topic and three to five articles addressing the topic from different perspectives. In the unit dealing with development and reproduction, he gives students a collection of articles describing new technologies that make it possible for doctors to save babies born sixteen weeks prematurely. He explains that the articles come from a variety of sources (including religious, medical, and insurance industries) and represent a range of viewpoints on the topic. He asks students to form groups of four. Each student in a group is given a focus role to guide their examination of the articles: 1) Perspective — unwarranted assumptions, an either/or outlook, absolutism, relativism, and bias; 2) Procedure — Considerations of evidence, double standard, hasty conclusions, over-generalization, stereotyping, and over-simplification; 3) Expression — Contradiction, arguing in circles, meaningless statements, mistaken authority, false analogy, and irrational appeals; and 4) Reaction — Changing the subject, shifting the burden of proof, creating a straw man, and attacking the critic. Students are asked to use this role as they read the articles as homework. At the next class session, the groups spent thirty minutes discussing their analysis with one another. The instructor spends the remaining class time hearing the reviews from each group. The activity not only got students engaged in a deeper consideration of the topic but also helped improve their skills in the identification of strong and weak arguments — something that will serve them well in the future (Barkley 251).
In his Organizational Theory course, the professor has developed several online modules on different decision-making models: rational choice, incremental bargaining, bounded rationality, and means-end hierarchy. To help students understand these models fully, he creates an Analytic Teams activity. He divides students into groups of four and assigns each student to one of the four roles. He gives the students a case study detailing a complex situation that requires a decision. Students should review the case as if they were a consultant to the organization in the case. Each student is to report his/her decision-making model, describe how it might be applied to the case, and suggest a solution based on that model. Students argue their cases and decide which solution they would adopt to guide their decision-making process, along with a rationale for why it was the best choice (Barkley 251-252).
Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp. 249-254.