One of the big liberal arts goals things is that students should learn to work well in groups or teams. It's also something employers say they want of new hires coming out of colleges. And it makes sense. I know I appreciate it when my colleagues pull their share of the cartload of work and when they help make coming to work pleasant rather than not.
And so in our classes, we instructors try to give our students experience working in groups.
Now, I don't know that we teach them how to work in groups. Do we? I haven't really thought about it. Should I give a little introduction to working in groups and say something about keeping in touch, communicating, recognizing that other people will get sick or have other problems that make being flexible vitally important? Hm. Okay, I'm not sure what I'd say or how, but it's something to think about. Does anyone out there actually teach students to work in groups?
One of my classes is doing a group project this semester. And my first year writing class does regular group work, especially for peer revision sessions. (Now that I think about it, I do guide peer revision groups more than groups in upper level classes.)
The thing is, on any peer revision day, at least one person will be absent which means rearranging some (since I've probably already made arrangements for the person out for a band or athletic trip), and then another will come in 20 minutes late, and blah blah. And for any class doing group work, at least one group will have some serious problem along the way.
This semester it seems to be that a student is ill a lot, and so not meeting with the group or doing work or whatever. And the others are frustrated. And he's frustrated and ill.
I need to figure out a more flexible strategy for dealing with the student who gets sick and doesn't participate in group work. What do you folks do for the group and for the student?