- The line of students move from high-familiarity to low-familiarity.
Pairing students based on their level of understanding ensures that someone with less understanding doesn't get paired with someone who seems to know everything.
- Paring where the students have different levels of understanding can make the student with less previous understanding feel uncomfortable working with someone who seemingly knows everything.
It’s important to recognize that self-confidence may impact where students self-select.
- Some students may be over-confident about their knowledge and ability, some less confident.
Consider using formative assessment methods such as pre-quizzes to group students.
- This allows you to group students based on your knowledge of students’ familiarity or ability with the material.
Emphasize that prior knowledge of a concept isn’t deterministic.
- This means that prior experience and not innate ability.
- Students with less familiarity may feel badly about being lined up at the low-familiarity end of the scale for the whole class to see.
- Similarly, students at the high-familiarity end of the line may feel pressured to look good, distracting them from developing full mastery of new material.
- For more info on these ideas, look into Carol Dweck’s Mindset theory. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindset#Specific_theories
- Because students come to introductory classes with various levels of experience, this pairing technique is useful in beginning courses.
If students with more familiarity finish the class assignment early, have them walk around the classroom and offer help to students who get stuck or are struggling.
- Additionally, you can give these teams extra challenges or require their work to be at a higher level of production quality.
Another way to pair students is to place students from the middle with students from the lower end of the familiarity scale.
- This can give students of middling ability the feeling of being "the smart one" in a group and help scaffold their partner throughout the assignment.