Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Dr. Amelia tries to be a matchmaker in this early thirsty.

So periodically, Dr. Amelia has the little flakies work together on something in pairs. She often assigns the pairings (and assigns groups, too), since when the flakies do it themselves, they often seem to learn less for some reason...So she tries to pair up people who can learn from each other, based on what the assignment is.

However, there is always that one kid. The one who talks a lot, but has little to say. The one who doesn't have the social skills to match their position in a college classroom. The one who starts talking and doesn't stop even as all the other eyes roll up to the ceiling. The kid is smart. S/he has some of the best answers in the class on written work.

Q: So when I assign the pairs, do I put hir with the popular but too cool for school kid who learn a lot from the pairing, or from the nice, but long-suffering kid who is also smart, but too kind to protest the match?


  1. @Amelia: The fact that you're contemplating this says something good.

  2. What you don't do is put all three together. THAT was a disaster

  3. My experience is that groups do better when they're homogeneous on the critical variable/s. I'd put this student with the other brightest and then give the whole class guidance, even a worksheet that enforces taking turns, and emphasize equal time and input.

  4. I came up with two nice pairings this year: a conscientious but dumb student with a bright one who'd been having attendance issues, and a shy one with a gregarious one, who didn't know each other at all and pulled off the best assignment in the class. It also seemed to me that pairs who knew each other tended to do less quality work, so I might assign them all next time.

  5. I like ovreductd's approach, but I'd probably go with option #1, on the assumption that the too-cool kid might learn something, and at least has the social skills to deal with that kid. Having been the smart, relatively quiet, too-kind-to-protest kid, I'd be reluctant to saddle him/her with a difficult partner.

    But except for very brief exercises, I usually go for groups considerably larger than two (in part because some of my student are so given to appearing only at irregular intervals), and I tend to sort them by choices they've already made (e.g. major). That makes for uneven-sized and sometimes surprisingly homogeneous (by one factor or another) groupings, but at least I don't lose any sleep over whom to put with whom. And they seem to cope. Female engineers are already pretty used to being the only woman in the group (and vice versa for male nurses).

  6. I let students pick their own groups but since they are freshmen, they don't always know each other well. Random students join groups together. After a few weeks of lab, the students who don't contribute get dropped out of their respective groups. Word gets around and they are not invited into other groups. The slackers end up forming their own group. They either all drop out or they are forced to do some work. I don't care one way or the other but I'm glad that the hard working students don't have to deal with them any more.


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