Physical - Lost at Sea
Goal: Initial exposure to the group to the kinds of activities we will be conducting in groups.
Activity: Lost at sea is a free activity conducted via paper handouts. It involves players rating a number of items as per their usefulness in survival situations. This initial rating is then discussed among the entire group to come up with a group rating. In most cases the group rating is higher than individual rating, exposing participants to the idea that group work will yield better results.
Measure of success:
Every member actively participated
Participants understood that working in groups can yield better results
Participants responded generally positively to the activity
Alternatives: Any “ice breaking” activities that do are depersonalized. Not requiring participants to share personal details on the first week allows them to get to know each other better without forcing it.
Debrief: As far the activity itself, I noticed that the task involving math (number 3 in the list above) grinds the group to stop. This is especially problematic since the “math” task is completely individual and it comes between Group ranking and Final score, both of which are the major opportunities for collaboration in this activity. In the future, we should probably stay away from any activity that breaks flow of collaboration and discussion as it simply defeats the purpose of this intervention.
Groups of 4 appear to work well. We have only had one group of 3. They seem to have been a little faster in breaking the ice. I think there was just fewer lanes of communication and less room to hide. This is based on observation from only one group. Designated Organizer is a role assigned to one participant in each group. The DO was placed in charge of reading the instructions, and keeping the group on task. I think it’s an effective way of encouraging collaboration and leadership, while removing the observer from the activity itself. Short of one group, I didn’t have trouble finding a volunteer to serve as the DO. I plan on rotating the role of DO weekly. Distribution of tasks might be a good strategy for organizing the VR groups.