How many times have we worked in groups in a classroom and heard, “It’s not fair!” Students expect a level of fairness in the classroom. And when using groups that will be evaluated, students can be sensitive to whom they are matched with. I recall my first group project in elementary school, when I was matched with my best friend. At first it was cool, until the project deadline was near and my good buddy did not seem the least bit concerned! If I was asked to match with him again, I would complain to the instructor, so I could preserve my friendship.
Of course grouping students in a random way appears fair. But it is so messy and time consuming to cut up the name list and go through the process of drawing names. And what if the math is wrong and we have groups of 4 and 6 people! Thank goodness for the Group Maker Tool from the Instant Classroom website. Here we can have a computer randomly form groups! Input the student names, then choose the group size and, “viola!” the groups are formed. And if there is a loud groan from the students, then the instructor can hit the reform group button until everyone is satisfied.
This tool would prove effective if you plan on using different random groups over a longer course. Then the time of setting it up and entering the names would be worthwhile. And you avoid the “it’s not fair that I am with so-and-so” complaints.
So which group presents there work first? A fairness cup works well. Give the groups numbers then write the numbers on individual scraps of paper; crumble the papers and put them in a cup, then draw them out in the order the groups will present.
Keeping the appearance of fairness will help your students stay satisfied and undistracted so they can focus on performing well!