Here’s some advice on the group methods assignment

If I were in the groups, I would suggest the following:

1. Everyone should post their individual answers to their group’s forum (the bulletin board) as soon as they submit them to me tonight. Thus, by tomorrow morning, you should have a good idea of who’s participating and who isn’t participating.

2. One way of making this a group project (not a group confusion) is to assign one or two questions to a person. Each person’s assignment would be to look at the individual answers to their questions and collate the answers. If for example, everyone has the same answer for one question, then you probably wish to make that answer your group answer. If, for another question, there are two or three different answers, then the group needs to examine this question more carefully.

3. People should post their conclusions for the question on the forum by a give time.

4. Now everyone should read the reports and begin discussing the questions with conflicting answers. Which answer is the best and why? This should generate much discussion and also cause the group to go over the basics of research methods and step by step examine how they were applied and look for errors.


1. Most groups won’t do this. They will split the work up to individuals and then concatenate the individuals answers just before submitting the group answers. This is not group work: you are not benefiting from different eyes on the same problem or the emergent qualities of group discussion.

Also, this means that your grade is not under your control: since the group doesn’t review the answers first you have not control over what others are submitting. If that’s okay with you then that’s fine.

2. While the process I espoused is a good one, clinkers will screw it up. Don’t wait for people to get around to doing assigned tasks. Also, how will you handle someone given a task but not doing it?

Note: This represents a departure for me in group work.  In the past I have let the groups
develop their own procedure, believing that that is part of the learning process.  
While that view can be easily supported,  I've realized that students are
too inexperienced to easily provide structure.
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I just noticed a typo I made …

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I/O psych … group project

Dear Frontal Lobers —

The purpose of this group is to allow you to discuss, online, the research methods questions and help each other learn research methods.

Let me set a few ground rules and give you some hints for a successful discussion.

You have a time limit. Post promptly and check and reply often. You may wish to arrange your schedule (slightly) so you have two or three chances during the day to check the forum and reply.

Using the forum (bulletin board) is best. I’ve given you group email and a group chat room. The forum is best because once something is posted its there and cannot be lost (like an email). The chat works sometimes but most groups misuse it by a few people arbitrarily setting a time for the group to chat which does not include everyone. The chat function works the best when two or three people who have been given a sub-task get together and chat.

Facilitators. I’ve assigned Justine and Keisha as co-facilitators. A facilitator is not a leader and has no special responsibility. A facilitator provides structure (e.g. timetables, tasks) once the group has identified its goals. A facilitator should not provide goals or a direction to the group – those should come from the group itself. A facilitator is not a disciplinarian. My purpose for assigning a facilitator is to just remove the doubt of a common feeling, “who should take charge?”

This is a group activity so you should use your individual activity blogs. Also, you will do peer credit report.
Individual Activity Blog
Each student will be given an individual activity blog (IAB). Use it to document your work on the group project. This will time stamp your work. Making false entries on your IAB constitutes a violation of academic integrity.
Peer Credit Report
Upon completion of this group project, you will submit a Peer Credit Report (PCR). The PCR is simple. You will estimate the contribution of each member of the group to the project and tell me if you think someone’s contribution is so low that their grade needs to be reduced. This information will allow me to fairly and accurately grade students’ work on group projects.

Clinkers. I know from experience that a few students will only half-heatedly participate in this project — even with the threat of the PCRs affecting their grades. In the past, groups have let clinkers slow them down. All I can do is warn you.

Don’t let the non-participation of some students slow you down or make you believe that the group is not working. I’ve seen groups in the past let the clinkers set a group norm of not participating. Participate. Post. Ask questions. Interact. That’s the norm for a successful group.

I’ve tried to spread the clinkers across the groups evenly. Of course, I can only guess who a clinker can be, but I think I’ve made the groups so there is a core of 3 or 4 good students.

Best wishes,

Dr Ashton

Clinkers are pieces of ash that were not cleaned out of a coal furnace. They didn’t burn and they took up space in the furnace thus prevent coal, which would burn, from being in the furnace.

Frontal lobe? I don’t give groups names like A, B etc or 1, 2 ect. Research has shown than the people in group A get more A’s than the people in Group B (who get more B’s) etc.

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Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Author: William Ashton
Posted date: Friday, June 10, 2011 10:28:49 AM EDT
Last modified date: Friday, June 10, 2011 10:28:49 AM EDT

Dear Class, 

I student emailed me saying that they were unclear about the wiki talk assignment and asked me to check their work on wikipedia.

The real purpose of the Wiki Talk assignment is to get each student on wikipedia and have them begin to learn how to use it. If you are so unsure of what you have done on wikipedia that you need me to check it, then you haven’t met the goals of the assignment because you don’t know what you are doing on wikipedia.

There are many things you should do for a class which are not connected to a grade. For example, in the instructions to the wiki project I give you an outline:

1. Create a wiki account and familiarize yourself with Wikipedia

and you’ll notice that no grade is connected to this work. Have you carefully gone through each of these pages and feel confident about the content of these pages and the methods that they introduce? I think that once you do you will have a very clear understanding of what I require for the wiki talk assignment.

As long as you think in terms of what you need to do for a grade rather than what you need to learn to do then you will have difficulties with all of your classes.

Also, this student said that different students have different ideas of what the wiki talk requires. We are going to run into this problem (different answers to the same thing) next week in the research methods assignment. I’ll ask the groups for one set (the best) of answers and you’ll need to decide between several students’ answers.

I have pressed you to articulate your thoughts in the study skills discussion because that’s how you can discover who is correct or who has the best answer. Students must articulate and explain their reasoning behind their answer to a top 10 question or their reasoning behind the way they think they should do the wiki assignment. With a person’s assumptions articulated it’s possible to follow their thought process and check their thinking along each step. The difference between a good answer and a bad answer can usually be found in carefully examining each step in the construction of that answer. Usually, in a bad answer, one of the steps is wrong.

What I’ve just described to you is the most important thing I can teach you. I know most York students cannot do this.


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