PBL Role Descriptions For Beginners

Assigning Roles In PBL Is Important

Now that Project Based Learning has taken shape in education, there is one major area of emphasis that must be stressed. Roles and descriptions are vital if Project Based Learning is going to work for you. Each team or group that you assemble to carry out a project, has to be assigned specific roles within the team in order to function properly. There is a vast difference between “group work” and “collaborative grouping.”

Some teachers are still trying to secure their footing when it comes to PBL. One common gripe among them is that groups have a tendency to perform in this manner: one member does everything, two comply and participate variably, and one does practically nothing. Yet, they all receive the same grade.

Give students the autonomy to choose in which capacity they will work within their group. Below is a standard list of roles and descriptions to get you moving in the right direction. Present this list to your students in the early stages of the project so that everyone is clear on what to do.

The Unplugged Version

Resource Managers (Secretaries) get necessary supplies and materials for the team and make sure that the team has cleaned up its area at the end of the day. The keep written documentation of all activities and help prepare print materials. They also manage the non-material resources for the team, seeking input from each person and then calling the teacher over to ask a team question.

Facilitators (Directors) help their teams get started by having someone in the team read the task orally. They make sure each person understands the task and that the team helps everyone know how to get started. Before anyone moves on, the facilitator asks to make sure each team member understands the team’s answer. Typically, a teacher could expect to hear a facilitator asking:

“Who wants to read?” “What does the first question mean?” “Do we all agree?” “I’m not sure I get it yet – can someone explain?”

Recorder/Reporters (Recorders) share the team’s results with the class (as appropriate) and serve as a liaison with the teacher when s/he has additional information to share with the class and calls for a “huddle” with all of the recorder/reporters. In some activities, a recorder/reporter may make sure that each team member understands what information s/he needs to record personally. Recorder/reporters may also take responsibility for organizing their team members’ contributions as they prepare presentations. Typically, a teacher could expect to hear a recorder/reporter asking:

“Does everyone understand what to write?” “How should we show our answer on this poster?” “Can we show this in a different way?” “What does each person want to explain in the presentation?”

The Task Manager (Time Keeper) keeps the team focused on the assignment of the day. He or she works to keep the team discussing the matter at hand and monitors if anyone is talking outside of her/his team. Additionally, a task manager helps the team focus on articulating the reasons for the science projects (outcomes, findings, answers). Typically, a teacher could expect to hear a task manager saying:

“Ok, let’s get back to work!” “Let’s keep working.” “What does the next question say?” “Explain how you know that.” “Can you prove that?” “Tell me why!”

Of those FOUR, one will be named the TEAM LEADER

Team Leaders Keep the group on task, assure work is done by all, gets needed materials and is the liaison between their group and other groups and between their group and the instructor.  This person can obtain a higher collaboration team grade thereby possibly making a better score than his/her colleagues. The leader should manage the project and not miss more than 2 days of school without a legitimate excuse (suspension is not legitimate).  Make sure your group understands and follows the rubric. Develop deadlines for your group. Monitor the group and keep members on task (including you) and issue warnings. Delegate and organize equal responsibilities to members.  Be a motivator, and keep track of all group member work.

The Wired version is coming soon! Meanwhile, please comment on this post! I’d like to know your triumphs with PBL, and your concerns moving into the next school year. How has Project Based Learning impacted the job you do in preparing children to be future ready?

Need more resources? Visit http://www.edutopia.org and http://www.bie.org today!

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