• Group functioning is a complex and dynamic process that forms the basis of successful participation in many aspects of our personal and professional lives.

    Programs of study at the University of South Australia are required to teach and assess the capacity of students to work collaboratively, to communicate effectively and to problem solve. This interactive web site has been developed to provide teaching and learning support for developing skills in working collaboratively.

    What is the purpose of the Working Collaboratively learning object?

    Group functioning is a complex and dynamic process that forms the basis of successful participation in many aspects of our personal and professional lives.

    Programs of study at the University of South Australia are required to teach and assess the capacity of students to work collaboratively, to communicate effectively and to problem solve. This interactive web site has been developed to provide teaching and learning support for developing skills in working collaboratively.

    What is the nature of the learning object?

    The interactive web site uses a simple and proven model for facilitating learning about the dynamics of successful collaboration. It provides guidance for observing and analysing a group's dynamics and strategies for addressing problems in group functioning.

    Assessment: A section within the web site describes options for authentic group assessment of group collaboration including strategies for assessing both the product and process of group collaboration.

    Who may benefit from using this object?

    Anyone interested in learning more about the way that groups function and improving their influence in groups. The site has particular relevance for students who are wanting to develop their group skills, University staff who utilise group work as a key learning experience or who are teaching and assessing skills in collaboration,leaders who are interested in developing team work in organisations and teachers/coaches who are seeking professional development in this area to improve team work and collaborative learning.

    How can I influence the way our group functions?

    The process of working collaboratively is complex and dynamic because there are so many variables and processes that impact on effective group functioning. The responsibility for influencing these variables and for working as a team rests with each individual group member however the overall success of the group is determined by the collective ‘synergy’ generated through collaborative contribution.

    The variables that impact on group effectiveness include aspects of group structure such as the size of the group, the characteristics of individual members and the allocation of roles and responsibilities together with process factors such as communication, problem solving and reflection. Successful group functioning can lead to achievements that are much greater than those possible when working alone and the process of collaboration can promote an array of broader positive learning outcomes for all group members. It is important to recognise that effective group functioning does not ‘just happen’ because individuals are put together in groups. Collaborative functioning is enhanced through the application of group knowledge and interpersonal skills, without them, group experiences can be negative and/or frustrating for individual members.