The best professors know that incorporating active learning and participation through group work is an effective way to keep students engaged in the classroom—especially if projects and assignments are structured well and reviewed fairly. The group format often connects participants in meaningful ways and boosts motivation by creating a healthy competitive environment that students find fun and refreshing.
But group learning strategies aren’t just for professors. Admins and other professionals who give structure to the entire student experience can leverage group-based activities to engage students and encourage them to stay active in their academic careers.
Let’s break down what group-based engagement could look like for your school and how you can build it into your student development programs.
What Does Group-Based Engagement Look Like?
Using group-based engagement outside the classroom is as easy as dividing your college or university into groups to create challenges and competitions hosted for an individual school or campus-wide. This doesn’t mean you need to change the way targeted development programs engage students—group-based engagement here means you’re establishing a larger framework to get more out of students as they participate in their personalized programs.
The career readiness programs at your business school and liberal arts college each have their own unique student pathways, but by creating an environment in which these groups can compete through progress and achievements, you establish more avenues of encouraging students to stay active and excited about their success.
Creating groups opens up new levels of driving engagement.
- The School-Wide Individual Level
Students in a school can compete among each other as individuals.
Example: Students in a business school can see how they rank as high-achieving individuals next to their peers.
- The School-Wide Group Level
Students in segments of a school can compete with each other as groups.
Example: Freshman in a business school can see how they rank as a group next to seniors in a business school.
- The Campus-Wide Group Level
Students in a school can compete campus-wide with other schools as groups.
Example: Students in a business school can see how they size up against students in the campus liberal arts college.
You can see with these examples that groups don’t have to revolve around the development programs themselves even as they focus on getting students to participate in program initiatives. There are endless ways you can divide up your institution to use this transformative technique.
Think about some of the natural groupings that occur at your school:
- Schools Within a College or University
- Freshman, Sophomore & Senior Classes
- First-Year Students
- Student Organizations
- Residence Halls
- Greek Life Houses
- Sports Teams
- Peer Mentorships
Why Group-Based Engagement Really Works
No one wants to be low on the leaderboard or see their failure to participate let down their team. And that’s one of the reasons why group-based engagement can be so successful in higher education.
Effective group-based engagement requires technology to integrate efforts and connect students. That’s where platforms like Suitable come in. This tech allows you to set up your student groups and fuel competition with badges and leaderboard points that map to student development program activities and level the playing field across groups.
The leaderboard in Suitable’s platform shows students how they are ranking in and among the various groups they belong to. Seeing success translated tangibly through points on an updated leaderboard is a way for students to be proud of their progress and rally around their groupmates to cheer each other on.
Types of Group-Based Engagement Strategies to Try
Many institutions get creative with the fun ways they pit groups against each other so they can see better results. You can establish a challenge that runs for a week, like homecoming week, or host competitions monthly, by semester, or for other periods of time that coincide with significant events at your school.
- Set up a back-to-school challenge that lets students see who can rack up the most points during the first month of a new school year by completing new activities in their program.
- Make an online scavenger hunt for freshman to see who can complete all of the new-student tasks first, like exploring areas of the school website or getting acquainted with tools like Blackboard.
- Create fun themed photo competitions that pit freshmen, sophomores, and seniors against each other as students continue their education online from home.
The Suitable platform offers options that make coordinating and reviewing challenges a breeze. Through its tools, you can require uploads like photos, videos, or written reflections that satisfy challenge tasks, develop milestones for completion and monitoring, and assign weighted points to specific achievements.
The possibilities for technology-supported group-based learning and engagement outside the classroom are endless. Making school engaging through groups is a technique that every institution should explore. As more admin professionals look for new virtual learning and engagement solutions to meet students wherever they are, gamification at the group level will help fill the gap and connect students in more meaningful ways.
Interested in investigating group-based engagement further? Get in touch with the team at Suitable to see how our platform can help you make a bigger impact on your student body this fall.