Guidelines for mentors / facilitators

Observing active engagement

To adjust activities you need to get a decent measure of how active your participants are. A short survey between sessions is an intuitive option but it has problems. First, unless you collect data digitally (like via google forms or similar), processing survey data will eat up valuable time. Compliance of participants with an additional weekly task, especially one that from their perspective is likely uninteresting is also a problem. Second, the data in a survey is self-reported so it is subject to a number of biases, such as participants answering what they think will make organizers and facilitators happy, or not being able to self-reflect on their attitude towards the activity. Solution to this is collecting data via direct observation. This had a major disadvantage of requiring the facilitator / mentor to spend the entire session observing, eliminating the option to run multiple sessions concurrently.

Main purpose for this observation is to ensure everyone is engaged and actively participating. One of the issues in groups is a tendency for some participants to disconnect. In groups of 4 or more it is possible for a participant to “check out” without visible affecting the performance of the group. This means that unless the facilitators are actively looking for these signs, this behavior can go unnoticed and therefore uncorrected for an extended length of time.

Identifying student populations

Identifying group preferences

It is not likely that any activity will fully satisfy needs for all participants, across all groups. Whether or not it is feasible to generate a large pool of activities to select from, it is necessary to identify what are overall preferences of groups. Activities can be classified by a number of qualities. Based on our observations we classify activities on a 2-axis scale of their relative abstract/concrete solution and their tone playful/serious. Include note on depersonalizing activities.

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Group vs Individual preferences

While every participant has their individual preferences it is more important to recognize that participants in their group will form a specific identity. Using average group preference is an easier way to adjusting activities.

Evaluating group cohesiveness

Mitigation strategies for non cohesive groups

Adjustment policies for activities

Alternative activities