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Class Ground Rules

A method to help students create ground rules

  1. Ask students to think about the best group discussions in which they had participated and reflect on what made these discussions so satisfying.
  2. Next, ask students to think about the worst group discussions in which they have participated and reflect on what made these discussions so unsatisfactory.
  3. For each of the positive characteristics identified, ask students to suggest three things the group could do to ensure that these characteristics are present.
  4. For each of the negative characteristics identified, ask students to suggest three things the group could do to ensure that these characteristics are not present.
  5. Use students' to draft a set of ground rules to which all agree, and distribute them in writing.
  6. Periodically ask the class to reflect on whether the ground rules established at the beginning of the semester are working, and make adjustments as necessary.

Sample Ground Rules

For discussions

*Avoid put-down (even humorous ones).

For lectures

SOURCE: Exhibit E.1 from Ambrose et al. (2010) using Brookfield and Preskill (2005)


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