Grouping by Strengths

by Meg Steinweg and Melanie Trexler

Faculty frequently design team projects to enable students to accomplish tasks they cannot complete alone and to build teamwork skills. The latter, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), is one of the top eight career-readiness skills that students need to learn in college (NACE 2022). Yet, instructors face a common challenge: How do you put students in groups that work well together?

The following activity helps instructors create groups that incorporate students self-determined strengths, student choice, and instructor matching-making. Additionally, the assignment invites students to reflect on their strengths and express agency in choosing their group members.

Part I: Strengths Assessment

  1. Access – Select “Find Your Top Strengths”
  2. Take the 100 question High5 Test. (8–15 minutes) Answer as best you can.
  3. Read and reflect on your results.

Part 2: Write the Paper

Reflect critically on the five strengths as they relate to your life and to your role in a group. For each of the five strengths:

  1. State the strength
  2. Describe it. Copy and paste the paragraph about your strength from the High5 website.
  3. Write a paragraph noting where you see this strength appear in your own life and in how you work in groups. Use examples of group work in other classes, on teams (ex: sports, volunteering, etc.), and/or in internships or jobs.
  4. Conclusion: Do you think these describe your core strengths as an individual? Why?

Part 3: Presentation

Present your strengths to the class in a 2–3-minute presentation.* Highlight at least 2 strengths you possess. How do you use these strengths in a group? Why are you a valuable team member? What are strengths you are looking for in a group member? Why?

*This could be recorded, and presentations viewed by students outside of class.

Part 4: Listening and group member selection write-up

As you listen to your peer’s presentations consider how peers’ skills and strengths compliment your own. You do have a voice in choosing potential group members, though the instructor determines which groups work together. You will be in a team with at least one person you select.

  1. In order, list four group members you would like to work with. 
  2. In one paragraph per person (3–4 sentences), explain:
    • How do your strengths complement each other in a group project?
      • What is one possible way your strengths could clash and how could you overcome that challenge?

Meg Steinweg is Associate Professor of Biology at Roanoke College. Melanie Trexler is Associate Professor of Religion at Roanoke.

creative commons license

This article was released under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license as part of the Teaching Messages Collection 2023-24.

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