Discuss What Each Member Brings to the Group
While you might know your other group members as friends, you probably don't know as much about them as students as you might think. A very productive topic for the first meeting, after all the logistics have been worked out, is to discuss what individual members' strengths and weaknesses are. In short, have everyone conduct a "personal inventory" and share it with the other members on their experiences relevant to the collaborative assignment. Doing this also helps alleviate the feeling that some group members are "smarter" or "know more" than others. Everyone has strengths they bring to the group; we're simply not always aware of them. Consider the following:
- What's your previous experience with the topic?
- What do you understand best from class? What are you struggling with?
- Do you have any outside experience (job, internships, previous classes) relevant to the topic and/or class?
- What's your experience with the kind of research we're doing (field, library, etc.)
- What kinds of papers do you write best? What have teachers and others complimented you on?
- What problems do you have in writing?