Facilitating Effective Group Projects in Geoscience Courses

Wednesday 1:30pm-4:00pm
Afternoon Mini Workshop


Sasha Seroy, University of Washington-Seattle Campus
Dana Thomas, The University of Texas at Austin

This workshop will explore effective ways to facilitate group projects to promote the development of workforce skills for students. We will provide an overview of the benefits of group projects for geoscience students, introduce example group project models from the leaders' experiences and discuss how to incorporate group projects into a course plan or learning experience. We will discuss tools and strategies that can be provided to students for structuring and assessing their own project progress and outcomes, as well as models for assessing group projects for grading purposes. Through this, we will focus on how to integrate skill development within the course structure, including project planning, management, communication and leadership. Participants will come away with tools to use in their existing group project teaching or outline new implementations for their own courses. This workshop is directly applicable for those who teach smaller classes at the undergraduate and graduate level, though K-12 teachers and informal educators and professionals are most welcome.


By the end of this workshop, participants will:

  • Discuss the benefits and challenges of course-based group projects
  • Explore tools and strategies for effectively structuring, facilitating, and assessing group projects
  • Map student skill development to group projects and create a plan to integrate workshop tools into participants' own courses


1:30 Welcome, icebreaker and introductions

1:45 Brief overview of the workshop goals and defining group projects

1:50 Small-group discussions and gallery tour of benefits and challenges of group projects for students and instructors

2:10 Whole-group discussion of the benefits and challenges of group projects for students and instructors

2:30 Break

2:40 Tools for facilitating group projects and student skill development, jigsaw activity

  • Setting up groups
  • Outlining structure and setting expectations
  • Establishing timelines and scaffolded milestones to guide student progress
  • Assessment
  • Helping students manage conflict

3:05 Jigsaw activity share out and whole group discussion

3:20 Participants work on action plans with resources provided by the workshop

3:50 Wrap-up and workshop evaluation

4:00 Adjourn


Effective Teams Dynamic Initiative (Georgia Tech): https://etd.gatech.edu/

G.W. Shafer, K. Viskupic, A.E. Egger; Critical workforce skills for bachelor-level geoscientists: An analysis of geoscience job advertisements. Geosphere 2023;; 19 (2): 628–644. doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/GES02581.1

G.W. Shafer, K. Viskupic, A.E. Egger; Analysis of Skills Sought by Employers of Bachelors-Level Geoscientists. GSA Today, v. 32, https://doi.org/10.1130/GSATG510GW.1

Supporting Neurodivergent Students Through Group Work (Warwick International Higher Education Academy): https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/academy/activities/learningcircles/neurodiversity/toolkit/learningteachingneuro/neurodiversitytoolkitpresentationgroup/

Support the Whole Student (InTeGrate): https://serc.carleton.edu/integrate/programs/diversity/whole_student.html