15 Steps to Group Project Success with Robin Spring

Lillian talks with Robin Spring, Assistant Professor of Advertising and Public Relations at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. Lillian and Robin discuss her “15 Steps to group project success” which outlines the process to create successful group projects in undergraduate advertising classes, but this case study is applicable across disciplines and is available as a CollegeSTAR module. Listen as Robin and Lillian detail this great technique that you can try out too!

Resources

15 steps to group project success CollegeSTAR module which lays out all of the steps that Robin mentions in the podcast

CollegeSTAR Modules and Case studies: Find other instructional modules based on Universal Design for Learning principles.

Robin Spring: See what Robin is doing at Grand Valley State UniversityFollow Robin in Twitter @robinspringGH

Transcript

Will be made available ASAP.

[Lillian] Welcome to think UDL, the Universal Design for Learning podcast, where we hear from the people who are designing and implementing strategies with learner variability in mind. I’m your host, Lillian Nave, and I’m interested in not just what you’re teaching, learning, guiding, and facilitating, but how you design and implement it and why it even matters.

Welcome to episode eight of the Think UDL podcast.  My guest today is Robin Spring, an assistant professor of advertising and public relations at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan.  Robin is also the advisor for the National Student Advertising competition, and among many, many other roles, she is the teaching and pedagogy chair for the advertising division Association of Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication.  Today, we get the chance to discuss her fifteen steps to group project success.  If you’re interested in making groups work for your students, have a listen to what Robin has developed to manage the process for group and student success.  She is also partnered with College STAR to make this case study available to everyone on the College STAR website, which we have linked to our ThinkUDL.org podcast webpage.  Robin, I am so happy to have you on the Think UDL podcast today. 

[00:01:51]

[Robin]  Well thank you for having me.

[Lillian]  Its great to have you here and I am very excited to talk to you about something that you’ve been working on and have been able to share with others in the academic community and who are teaching, that is really helpful and that is your work with students doing group projects.  And you’ve written something for the College STAR website called “15 Steps to Group Project Success” and I was wondering if you could tell me just a little bit about how did you happen to come up with this and how does it relate to your teaching?

[00:02:28]

[Robin]  Oh my goodness, this has been a project in the making for some time.  It was kind of organic.  I’ve been teaching for some time and because I teach in the advertising/public relations area, it’s a very collaborative field and so we do a lot of group projects.  And, over time I noticed when I would introduce a group project, all the eyes would roll and you can tell by the body language that, you know, students were grumbling.  And, I was wondering what was upsetting them so much about a group project.  And, over the years, I’ve heard various complaints, and so I set out to try to remedy those issues that students were having with oh, you know, maybe they were worried about their grades being lowered from a non-performing student, or you know, not clear directions or feedback, or what am I getting graded on, all of those types of things.  And, frankly, what I began to realize is that we don’t teach students how to perform in a team before we throw them in a group project, and that was really my biggest insight overall.  And I thought, you know, we should integrate part of team learning and team communication into teaching them how–if we’re going to ask them to do group projects, we should teach them how to do it well. 

[00:03:56]

[Lillian]  Excellent.  So, in advertising, it sounds like you are doing this all the time, right, that’s just the nature of your field?

[Robin]  Yes it is, there’s a variety of different types of roles and people relying on each other for different skill sets, and collaboration.  It really takes a village and so we do try to set students up to learn how to really thrive in those types of environments, which is a necessity in the field. 

[00:04:34]

[Lillian]  Wow, so could you tell me, how does this all start with the students?  Can you tell us a little bit about those fifteen steps because I’m eager to know.

[Robin]  Sure, so when I–first thing I do is when I introduce the group project, I start with letting them just kind of vent a little bit.  So, I start with getting them to think about the best group project that they’ve ever been in.  And it doesn’t have to be an academic type of a project, it can be any kind of best group they’ve been in.  So, I get them to–I pose that question: what’s the best group you’ve ever been in?  It could be a team, or a band, or an academic project, or any type of group, even a best friend group, what makes that such a great group?  And then I have them talk in small groups with their neighbors.  And, the discussion starts going for a while and they have a really great time  reminiscing on their best groups.  And then I call it all together and ask the class as a whole who wants to tell me about their best group experience, and they start telling me these characteristics of what makes their group so great.  So, I write those all down on the board, and then I give them the other opportunity of telling me, alright, now I want you to discuss the worst group ever.  And, again, put them in small teams or their neighbors just discuss, and boy, that conversation really gets loud.  And they have a lot of fun talking about the terrible things that they’ve gone through in these group projects or worst groups that they’ve ever been in and so they have a lot of fun talking about that in small groups.  So, again, I get them to tell me as a full class, you know, I take volunteers, and I write that all out on the board and we have a lot of stories to share, it gets pretty lively at that point.

[00:06:42]

[Lillian]  Wow, so, already you are incorporating one of the UDL principles, which is activating background knowledge, because they’ve got some background knowledge about what works in groups and what doesn’t work in groups.  And so they’re kind of easing their way in about what they’ve already learned about how they can do well at this or how they can maybe avoid the pitfalls from before.  So, already you’re giving them a leg up on this next project rather than just throwing them out, you know, to figure it all out by themselves.  So that’s fantastic. 

[00:07:13]

[Robin]  Yeah, exactly, and you end up with a column of great characteristics of groups on one side of the board, and a column of terrible characteristics, and its pretty–it becomes pretty visual at that point as well.  And, I think they like the opportunity to explore those ideas and so basically, I say “alright, you guys, this is the group you want to be,” you want to be in this good characteristic group, and you want to avoid all those problems and pitfalls over on that second list.  So it also gives them a visual as well.

[00:07:49]

[Lillian]  Great, and so now that you’ve had this discussion, then what’s the next step?

[Robin]  So the next step is talking about the importance of collaboration in the industry that they’re going into.  So, in my case its in advertising and public relations.  But it could be whatever because simply, humans have to communicate with one another and get along in any kind of work setting just about unless you’re completely isolated.  So, we start talking about why this is important to their career and also to themselves as an individual, as a person, and how behaving well in a group and learning the importance of team building skills will help them grow not only personally but in their career.  So, we talk about the fact that there is social aspects of a group and there’s also the task aspects of a group, so we talk a bit about what’s needed for what they need to go forward. 

[00:08:57]

[Lillian]  Wow, that’s where you’re really highlighting the relevance of this project, how you’re doing the project and the group, because they’re going to need these skills.  So, they’re learning, you’re reminding them how important, how valuable those skills are, and that’s again, another UDL principle, part of that engagement piece, that I am pretty sure every single step here is going to have this UDL principle just shouting at us.  I’m so excited.  Ok, so then you’ve got to tell them what?

[00:09:30]

[Robin]  So, the next step is to actually give them some homework on learning more about group dynamics, on team learning, group communication, because I think that’s the point where we lose a lot of students.  They just don’t understand how to do that.  So, I send them home with an assignment reading about group dynamics.  And, that can be–there’s a lot of different resources for that.  I happen to use a website that I found that is quite handy, and it is in my module on the College STAR case study.  And so they read–but you can use any source of team learning, there’s lots of them out there.  And then I–this particular source that I use also has a nice little quiz that goes along with that, so I get them to read about–more about group dynamics, they take a self-assessment, its kind of a quick and dirty test, certainly not a, you know, completely–it may or may not be completely accurate.  Some students take issue with it, they think that they may be a little bit more of a leader than they are or that comes out with.  But the point is, is that it does give them a little bit of how they could be assessed.  And so it gets them reflecting on “how do I behave.”  So the fourth step is the group dynamics homework.  The fifth step is the self-assessment.  And then I actually–the sixth step is a self-relfection.   So, after they’ve done their group dynamics homework and taken the self-assessment, they have to write a one to two page reflection of “what did I learn.”  What did I learn about group dynamics, group communication, team learning, what did I learn about myself, and how can I apply these principles, where am I falling short, where can I do better based on what I’ve just learned. 

[00:11:30]

[Lillian]  So, all of those things that you’ve just said are about five straight collaboration and community, developing self-assessment and self-reflection, every one of those things is part of that engagement column on the UDL guidelines, so that’s fantastic.  OK, so now they’ve got a better understanding of why they’re doing it, of how they’re going to do it, and then what’s next?

[00:11:56]

[Robin]  So, what I have them do next is bring their assessment scores and their knowledge that they gained through their self-reflection, and they come to class with some new ideas about where they best fit in a team: what are their strengths, what are their weaknesses, and then we talk a bit about how important it is to have a variety of different types of skills on a team.  You know, that if you have all leaders that may not be the best thing, or if you have all just recorders, or people cheering people on, that may not be the best thing.  So, we have a conversation about diversity of talent on a team makes a really good team.  So, then I launch them into kind of a class networking, because we know that students like to sit in the same places, they talk to the same people, and I just feel that that is not the best way to learn about who is in the classroom that might have a different skill set than you do.  So I get them up on their feet moving around and I tell them, we’re just going to try to talk to everybody in the class, and this is just plain old networking.  And I do a couple of fun exercises with them, and you can do anything that you want, but this, its designed to group people up in different groups and get them talking to each other so that they can meet other people in the classroom.  And so what I do, for example, is say, “alright, find people with the same color shirt that you have.”  And then they naturally gravitate to three or four different groups.   Then I say, once you get into these groups, talk about what you learned in the group assessment and what your strengths might be and what your weaknesses might be.  So that they can learn about each other and, ideally, they start to find people that may have a strength, that may have a weakness in so that they can maybe start seeing some potential teammates.  So, I go through this exercise, I do about three different pairings, maybe they have to find people with the same style shoes, or that like the same kind of ice cream, or it might be something more related to their field, like what’s their favorite advertising mascot, or jingle, or whatever it may be.  But they’re grouping and I give them about three or four different exercises to get them into different groups.  So, meanwhile, I’m asking them to talk to everybody in the class that they’ve never talked to, and, at this point, yeah they’ve–everybody’s just having kind of fun talking to one another, its getting them on their feet, and meeting other people and discussing their strengths and weaknesses. 

[00:15:03]

[Lillian]  This is another good point about what students might need or–its always good to have students talking and to have students getting to know each other because sometimes I think we’re losing that skill.  I know a lot of young people are really internally focused especially with phones, and being able to just put those phones away and talk to regular people and have long conversations is a skill that we can always work on, why don’t we just say it that way.

[00:15:41]

[Robin]  Yeah, and I think they really appreciate it, because it is kind of active learning, you know, getting up on their feet and socializing.  And they really do enjoy this process.  It does take a little bit extra time, but I find that its worth it.  And when I tell them also, once they get done with this, the next step would be what I call an assisted group self-selection,  or assisted self-selection process.  So, this is one of the complaints that I also am trying to alleviate, is where students just feel they oftentimes get–the instructor puts them in a team that they’re not necessarily fond of, and this gives them some choice on finding some teammates that they feel that they can work with, and hopefully, at this point we’ve talked enough about diversity of talent that they’re trying to choose teams that, maybe they’re finding somebody that will be a strength where they are weak, where they have a weakness.  So, at this point I ask them, I say, now I’m going to let you guys pick your own teams, I do give them some parameters, I say I want about four people to a team, could be five, could be three, but I find that four is about optimal.  And so I just let them kind of go through the pain of finding their own team.  Its actually kind of joyful pain, they like to be able to pick their own teams, but sometimes its hard for some of the introverts.  So, I do watch for those students that are having trouble and I kind of come up along their side and I help them integrate into a team, and frankly, I don’t have that happen too often, it usually goes quite smoothly.  So then I–once they find their team, I have them sit down, and sit with their group.  And this often is interesting because students will have to move from different areas of the classroom because they have found somebody in the different seats that they hadn’t talked to before, and so they sit down together as a team, and I talk to them about the fact that these are tentative teams.  So that there still is room to move people around, so I kind of keep it flexible for a week, so that they can find out if they can really work together because it is kind of, you know, on the spot team-building.  So they review schedules and that sort of thing, and also there’s usually somebody that’s absent that day or two, and I tell them I reserve the right to make adjustments if needed, or if somebody has an issue with their team, they can come to me, and we can make the final teams in the coming weeks.  So it does give them flexibility in that  area and they do appreciate that. 

[00:18:43]

[Lillian]  And, how many students total do you have in these classes where you’re implementing these fifteen steps to group project success?

[Robin]  Its about–we have thirty to thirty-three students in our classes, so I end up with seven or eight teams of, you know, four students, somewhere in there.  It just depends on how many people are in the class, sometimes I have a group of five, but it works out quite well.

[00:19:11]

[Lillian]  Ok, so they get into their teams, they’ve got this week where they kind of figure it out, then they finally solidify the teams, making sure people have the right schedule, they’ve got a diversity of people in it, then what do they do as a team?

[Robin]  So, the next step is the team expectations agreement.  So, this is a little piece of paper I hand to them–and I believe I have an example up on the UDL College STAR website–but, I tell them that they need to sit down and talk to each other about what they expect from each other.  And they get to decide this on their own.  But, since we’ve already talked about the best teams and the worst teams, they have a pretty good idea about what is a problem for them as an individual when they get into a team.  So, I give them time to talk about what kind of expectations they want to have for one another, and then they get to set the parameters.  And, this is up to them, but I do have some examples, you know, saying that we want an “A” on the project is–it may be a goal, but they should be more specific, for example: you should be respondent to any kind of communication, you need to share each other’s contact information, if somebody’s having trouble, don’t hide it, go ahead and reach out to your teammates and ask for help, you know, just being communicative, being open-minded, they come up with a variety of different expectations they have for each other.  And, I find that this step is really critical because it heads off problems before they begin.  And so they all sign it, and keep a copy and then give me a copy of that team expectation agreement.  This kind of holds them accountable to each other and I know what they’ve come up with and they all do too, and they do try to hold themselves to this, it works out pretty nicely. 

[00:21:22]

[Lillian]  Is there ever anything on those agreements that you say always should be on there, like if they haven’t put it on you want to make sure that they definitely have it?

[Robin]   You know, I give them, pretty much, flexibility on this.  I find that they really do come up with great criteria for how they want to behave in a group.  It really does–I find that I really don’t have to go back in there and have them add anything else because I do give them what I’m expecting from the group project, and I give them–and we’re going to get into this in a minute– but I give them rubrics and that sort of thing, so they know what’s expected of them, but they’re just kind of making a pact within their team that they’re going to be accountable to one another and to themselves. 

[00:22:22]

[Lillian]  Well–and wouldn’t you know it, that’s another one of our UDL guidelines, which is helping to guide appropriate goal-setting.  And that’s helping with their executive functions.  They’re things that you have mentioned about responding to emails, being responsive, getting–handing-off each other’s information so that they can work together and get this project started.  It’s going to help them get started with the students who are flummoxed, right, by how do we even start this?  Well, we’ve got a goal together, we know what the roles are, and that’s part of the providing multiple means of action and expression that if you are giving them the time in class, now you don’t have to set all the goals, is what you’re saying, you don’t have to be up there and say “put this on your goal sheet,” but what you are doing is giving them the time, giving them the opportunity of setting it up for them to do it themselves, which is going to have better follow-through.

[00:23:21]

[Robin]  Exactly.  I do discuss with them that they should make a timeline, that they should–I’m actually trying to get them to project manage this.  This is–that’s as skill as well.  So, I don’t–for this particular project there are certain individual assignments that they have as well, so they do have some timelines, but I’m trying to get them to learn how to manage a project.  Which is a skill on its own.  So, I do talk to them about timelines and getting things–parameters, and that sort of thing, but they do build that into what they’re trying to accomplish. 

[00:24:07]

[Lillian]  Yeah, and that’s a skill that only gets better with practice. 

[Robin]  Exactly.

[Lillian]  You could tell them about it a million times, but its only going to get better if they do it again and again and again, and feel those consequences of when it doesn’t go on the right timeline, and the successes of when it does.  So, that’s a great way to do it. 

[00:24:29]

[Robin]  Exactly.  So, then the next step is I start giving them–I give them individual assignments as well as group assignments.  So, frankly, the other–one of the other complaints I hear is that group projects usually–they’ll say that oftentimes, a student will not pull their weight.  You get somebody that is a non-performer or something like that, and that the other team members end up doing all the work.  So, to alleviate this stress that the students have, I give them individual–so they have to do individual assignments.  So, this way, it forces–they have to learn on their own.  But, they bring these individual assignments–so they do all the assignments on their own, and then they bring them to their group, and they review each other’s individual assignments, and then they come up with the best idea going forward as a team.  So, they can pull from individual ideas, they can use more than one, they can revise, they can build, so the idea is we’re building a campaign for somebody, and so, we want the best ideas.  And so, if they do it on their own, there’s individual thinking, and then they can bring these ideas together as a team and build on them and make them better for a better end result as a team. 

[00:26:03]

[Lillian]  Great, so they’ve got lots of accountability, it seems, built into this project.  

[Robin]  Yes, and I do grade those individual assignments so I know exactly who is doing what, so that keeps me informed, I can give them individual feedback on how they can do better, they can bring this to their team, and then build a better project in the end.  And so, they know what the expectations are, and I tell this–the next step is step thirteen, the personal assessment letter.  So that they know from the start of the project that they are going to be assessed by their teammates, so that’s no secret.  And, I learned this over time, it used to be “oh, let’s assess our teammates” and I give them a Likert scale and they agree to give everybody a five out of five, and that was just going nowhere.  And, I realized that they’re not going to be honest unless they know that this is going to be confidential.  So, I turned from the Likert scale of team assessment to a personal assessment letter.  And, I tell them that there’s several things that go into this letter.  So, they talk about–this comes at the end of the project and its part of their final assignment.  So, they have to talk about what happened in their group.  How was their process?  What challenges did they come up against?  How did they handle that?  What went well?  What lessons did they learn?  What would they do better next time?  And then I have them assess themselves and each individual in their group.   And, so, I get a real honest assessment because they hand this letter directly to me, nobody else sees it, I don’t share it with anybody, but it helps me assess how to grade in the end.  And, I tell them up front too, I have a grading policy on my group assessments that explains this process.  That I will look at the group project as a whole, but then I will also look at the individual assignments and then also the personal assessment letters on how everybody performed in the team, and it really does give me a good sense of who was all-in and who was slacking, and whether they deserve, really, if everybody deserves the grade for the group, or do I need to adjust individuals up or down.  And, I tell them that up front so they know that, that’s also a motivator.  

[00:28:57]

[Lillian]   Yeah, and that’s a self-reflection and assessment tool that you’ve got–two of them early on in the project before you start, and then at the end of the project.  So, I’ve got a question that goes along with that.  Have you ever had a group set of these letters where maybe three people in the group said, you know, this one person wasn’t doing what they should have done, and then that one person gave a conflicting account about how he or she had participated?

[00:29:28]

[Robin]  Sure.  Yes, that happens, and you can usually tell because oftentimes, well, every time, I’m watching their individual work, but I’m also giving them time in class to work in groups and I’m observing.  So, I can see if there’s a problem.  Often, it’s a student that may not be showing up for class, so its pretty easy to spot.  If its somebody’s word against somebody else’s word, I’m going to–often I’ll have a conversation and try to figure out what happened.  Its fairly transparent, though, I usually can tell, and oftentimes if I do have to grade somebody down, they know they deserve that, and if they want to come talk to me about it, I’m happy–I always am happy to talk about grades.  And then there’s some students that really go above and beyond, and I end up giving them extra points because they really did step up and make better–they just really took more time and they deserve a little more. 

[00:30:38]

[Lillian]  So, do you have those students who, perhaps, didn’t put in the time and effort, and they’ll tell you that in their letters?

[Robin]  Oh yeah, its amazing how honest these letters become, and it does force them to self-reflect and oftentimes they’ll decide that next time they’ll do it better, or they’ll pinpoint where they had challenges, and what those challenges were and what those remedies could be going forward.  So, it is really a great tool.

[00:31:13]

[Lillian]  I’m a big fan of that as well, having students to reflect on what they’ve learned and tell me what they learned by doing this assignment.  It has changed the way that I grade and the way I see my students because I might be able to tell “oh, they figured this out on this paper,” but when they’re telling me, they’re telling me so much more than what I can even see by their work.   So, I’m a big fan of something like that as well. 

[Robin]  Yeah, they’re thinking about how they’re thinking and how they’re working this meta-cognition piece and its very helpful, I believe. 

[00:31:50]

[Lillian]  So, ok, wait, what step are we on now?

[Robin]  Well, there’s step fourteen, the rubric.  So, I do show them exactly what I’m grading them on.  So, they do know–and I think that again is something that I had been hearing from students as a complaint: “we’re not sure what we’re getting graded on, how do we know what to do,” and so I post these rubrics right up front, so they do know what I’m looking for and they can move toward those areas.  That said, the rubrics are fairly open for interpretation, so there’s various methods that–or various ways that they can attack the project.  Because, in our field, there’s no one right answer, and we’re encouraging creativity, problem-solving, creative thinking, and, I really do push them to get past the obvious answer to getting deeper into a more creative answer because this field is all about creativity and coming up with something new.  And so I leave them a lot of room to do that, and I encourage it.  And I think part of that is creating a safe space for them to do that.  So, I tell them, you know, I want you to really try to get out of the box, come up with something new, something that is going to really “wow” us.  And, if they make the attempt to do that, and maybe its not the best, but at least they tried, that deserves kudos, for sure.  Because that’s valued in our field, for sure. 

[00:33:35]

[Lillian]  It sounds like you’re making it a very comfortable environment, a safe place where they can push the envelope just a little bit.  And, I know, many students–we’ve conditioned so many students in K12, even before they get to postsecondary to get that right answer, so part of your job is kind of de-constructing that, isn’t it, to get them to any answer, right?

[Robin]  Absolutely, I have to de-construct teaching to the test, and no child left untested, because they are so concerned about what is it that I want, and I tell them, you know what, I want you to come up with the best answer, I want you to be happy with what you come up with, because I want you to use this actually as a portfolio piece, to show who you’re interviewing with in the future that you can come up with great ideas, and this is your process, and you have something to show for it, I want you to be proud of your work.  Its not just about a grade, this is about your life and your journey, and how you can show others what you can do.  So, I do allow for a very safe space, because people will not share ideas and come up with crazy concepts if they feel that they’re being judged.  So, in the very beginning of the semester, we discuss that people have to be respective or respected and open-minded and be willing to be shared–share their best ideas.  And, so, we really set that up, that’s a key component here.

[00:35:10]

[Lillian]   Wow.  So, they have–any they have the rubrics from the beginning that are open and creative, but that’s not the end.  That was only step fourteen.  So, what is step fifteen?

[Robin]  Yeah, so, step fifteen then is outputs and evaluations.  And, so, I’m giving them a variety of different ways to present their work.  So, they–the outputs in my case are giving an oral presentation as a team with presenting and pitching their ideas in front of the class, and oftentimes in my case we have a class client.  We’re working a business from the community, so they come in and listen to the pitch, so its real.  And, it kind of scares them, and that also really ups their game as well, so its not just me, its not just their classmates, they have a client they are pitching to.  And so they really have to work on their oral presentation.  They also produce a written document of their work, we call it a plans book.   So they–and it shows up in both written form and visual, graphic presentation form so they’re visualizing their ideas, and then they, again, they’re handing in their personal assessment letter.  So, in addition to–so those are the outputs that I’m asking for.  So, they have written, oral, and self-assessment evaluations.  And then the evaluations are coming not only from me, I look at all their work and I assess that and give them a grade, but I’m also having their peers do peer assessment.  So, I have students watching their presentations and they also give their input.  So, there’s some Likert scales for things that I’m looking for, but I also ask for written comments on what did they like, and what do they think could be improved.  And then the other assessment piece or evaluation piece is the client.  They are actually filling out an assessment kind of a rubric, but also I’m asking for feedback, and that’s part of our agreement, if they’re going to be our client, they need to be able to assess as well.  So, the students end up not only with my feedback, with their peers’,  they get peer feedback and then they get client feedback.  And, I think all of this helps them grow and figure out what did they do great and what could they improve on next time. 

[00:37:57]

[Lillian]  And so how do you incorporate the peer feedback?  Do you look at those as well in their seeing that? How do you incorporate those things?

[Robin]  I do, I look at the peer feedback, I look at the client feedback, and of course, I have my own, but oftentimes its quite interesting, a student may pick up on something that I missed, or a client has a particular comment that I think is very relevant, so I do account that into my own grading.  I look at how was this received, not only by me, but by the students and the client.  And, it does help me evaluate the project as a whole.  Maybe somebody saw value in something that I missed, or maybe they saw something that could be improved that I missed, but I do weigh in–and I think it makes the students feel better, too, its not just one person assessing them, its multiple people.  And I think it gives them a truer vision on how they’re perceived, and where they can improve, and I think they appreciate that.  They really can’t wait to read those comments, not only from me, but from their peers and their client. 

[00:39:11]

[Lillian]  Wow, every single step of this process has related to a UDL principle, Robin.  I mean, directly, one-to-one.  All of these things have helped to make the goals more understandable.  Having the client there gives this authentic and valuable assignment for students, every single one is linked into UDL.  So, I’m so glad that you have written all this down for somebody to easily incorporate it into their classes and I can already tell I could use this in Art History and a group project in something that has nothing to do with advertising. 

[00:39:51]

[Robin]  Exactly.  I think its really applicable to so many different areas, and the students that go through this process actually really enjoy the group project, that’s what I’ve found over the years, that these teams become very close, they become friends, they become roommates, they stay in touch after they’ve graduated, its really satisfying in that regard.  They actually feel that they had a great experience, most of the time, I will say, non-scientifically 90% of the time they feel that they had a great group project, you know once in a while something goes south and a project blows up, that does happen, but I’m finding the success rate and also the quality of work is elevated through this process.  They feel that they know what they’re supposed to do, they’ve learned about group dynamics, they’ve had guidelines to keep them on track, they have transparency in how they’re being graded, they’re protected from grade deflation when a team member loafs, they have tools that help them with the collaborative skills that they need, and they end up with a great project that they can add to their portfolio and they typically have a great experience. 

[00:41:15]

[Lillian]  This is fantastic.   Thank you so much for sharing this and providing this on our College STAR website for people to be able to use and you have so many of the things that you’ve mentioned available, ready for people to just link into it, you’ve done all the work, so we really appreciate that. 

[00:41:35]

[Robin]  Well, I’m so happy to be able to provide this, I think its helpful for the students, I think it would be helpful for instructors that are struggling with team projects.  There’s a lot of ways you can alleviate the pain and make things better. 

[00:41:50]

[Lillian]  Well, thank you.  So, I have another question, my last question for you, though, is something I like to ask my guests, which is what is it that makes you a different kind of learner?  What’s different about your learning, Robin?

[00:42:04]

[Robin]  Oh, goodness, I am the kind of learner that thinks I have to know everything.  And, so I tend to drink from the firehose all the time.  And, I’m always–it helps that I’m a super curious person, I really do enjoy learning, and so that helps me learn how to teach better as well.  But, I do find that I tend to want to know everything, so I do have to keep myself focused and that’s important to be able to move forward, because we can’t know everything and I just have to come up with–I just have to come to that realization.  So I have to remind myself to focus. 

[00:42:47]

[Lillian]  Well, it certainly sounds like that’s what you’re doing for your students, is you’re helping them to focus and get the timeline together and get to work on that group project so they may have a million different ideas, but you’re helping them along the way to get it done, so that’s a great application for how you see yourself as a learner and how you can help others that are like you, so thank you so much for joining us on the Think UDL podcast, Robin, I’ve really learned a lot and I appreciate your time and your effort in getting this up for other instructors to use, so thank you very much and we can follow you on Twitter, right?

[00:43:25]

[Robin]  Yes, absolutely, please do. 

[Lillian]  And tell me your twitter handle again?

[Robin]  Its @RobinSpringGH

[00:43:33]

[Lillian]  Wonderful, well thanks and I’ll see you on the Twitter-verse. 

[Robin]  Alright, I’ll see you on the Twitter-verse.  Thank you very much.

[00:43:45] [Lillian]  You can follow the Think UDL podcast on facebook, twitter, and instagram to find out when new episodes will be released, and also see transcripts and additional materials at the ThinkUDL.org website. The Think UDL podcast is made possible by College STAR, the STAR stands for supporting transition, access and retention in post-secondary settings, and the website provides free resources and instructional aids based on UDL principles. If you’d like to know more, go to the CollegeSTAR.org website. Additional support for the podcast is made possible by Appalachian State University, where, if you call it Appalachian, I’ll throw an apple at you! The music on the podcast was performed by the Odyssey Quartet, comprised of Rex Shepherd, David Pate, Bill Folwell, and Jose Cochez. Our sound engineer is Tanner Jones and our social media coordinator is Ruben Watson. And I’m your host, Lillian Nave, thank you for joining us on the Think UDL podcast.