Working Groups Process

January 15, 2009

This kit provides resources for facilitating local discussions about scholarship of teaching and learning projects through the VKP working groups process. Adapted from the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, the working groups process provides a structure for small group discussion, a supportive process for feedback, and a means for moving from teaching questions towards more developed scholarship of teaching research projects.

What is the Working Groups Process?

The Working Groups Process is a method by which small groups of faculty work together to engage in a structured discussion of individual scholarship of teaching and learning projects. At the heart of the process is feedback from peers: from a First Respondent (a designated friendly commentator), from the group, and from all group members via a written feedback form.

How does the process work?

In the classic model (which provides several two-three hour concentrated discussions at multi-campus institutes), each person presents on her or his project for approximately 10 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of prepared, deeper commentary by the First Respondent. The facilitator then leads a 20 minute general discussion of the project by the working group. All members of the group then take 10 minutes to offer written feedback on the project, using a standard set of feedback questions. Throughout the process one member of the group serves as a convenor and time keeper, helping keep the process moving in a timely manner and making certain that everyone participates in the discussion. Local circumstances may allow for more flexible timing.

What is the time commitment for participating in the process?

  • Preparation of an individual’s reflections on his or her project: 1-3 hours, depending on how formal a local group has decided this reflection should be (see suggestions below)
  • First Respondent’s reading and preparation of comments: 30 minutes to 1 hour
  • Presentation, response and discussion of one project takes approximately 55 minutes total (although times may be adapted to local circumstances).

How might the process be adapted for local use?

The Working Groups Process can easily be adapted, using a variety of methods, for local use. Here are some suggestions–some culled from practices at other local VKP groups–which might help you as you think about adapting the process.

  • Local groups may or may not wish to ask for written reflections from presenters. In some cases, the preparation of a Powerpoint presentation or other short presentation may be more appropriate. In any case–whether you are asking for written reflections or only a short presentation during a local meeting–you will likely find the writing prompts helpful for the prepration of a presentation on research projects.
  • Several local groups have found the written feedback form especially helpful. We are providing slightly adapted version of this form in this kit: Working Process Feedback Form
  • At the Summer Institute, participants usually participate in three rounds of discussion, with two projects discussed at each sitting. In the local case, it is much much more likely that one will discuss only one project at a time. This can allow for a richer, more concentrated conversation because the focus is on one project.

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