Learner Engagement: Forming Student Groups


Student groups create opportunities for collaboration, which is a useful skill inside and outside of class. Students can bring their unique perspectives into a collective and produce results that could not be achieved by themselves. This guide helps highlight key considerations and techniques for forming student groups.


Forming the study groups:

  • Manually create groups in a Google Sheet, post on Brightspace, and send an Announcement.
  • Post this Google Form in your Brightspace to give students a choice over groups. Instruct students how to fill it out and when to return to see results. 
    • We suggest making it a requirement for students to follow up with the instructor on who is their group. This is a group assignment in Brightspace.


  • Group size:
    • 3 - 5 is recommended.
  • Preparation:
    • Consider a brainstorming activity with the whole class. Ask students what makes a group successful.
      • For example, bring questions and notes to each group meeting.
  • Guide your students by providing a document to fill out. You can require its submission it in Brightspace group Assignment.
  • Key attributes for efficient groups:
    • Ground Rules 
      • Recommend that groups first create ground rules. 
      • Be respectful of everyone’s questions, names, and pronouns.
      • Consider going around and asking everyone if they have questions.
    • Location 
      • A quiet location held either in-person, Zoom, or alternates each week.
    • Schedule:
      • Establish a schedule to meet regularly. E.g. once a week for an hour or more.
    • Communication:
      • Share each other’s emails and/or phone numbers for group messages. This way information can be shared quickly, e.g. someone cannot make the session, the study location changed, etc.
    • Establish roles:
      • Recommend roles the leader, note-taking, facilitator, time-keeper, and devil’s advocate.
    • Review
      • Reserve time (5 - 10 minutes) at the end to review/summarize/wrap up.


Shaw, D. M. (2011). Promoting professional student learning through study groups: A case study. College Teaching, 59, 85-92.

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