Purpose: To build students' sense of belonging in the course, a connection to peers for support when struggling with content, and deeper learning than is generally achieved individually through collaboration with a diverse social learning group.
Teams are created to work together on team quizzes and workbook activities only, not group projects. Most team activities should be low stakes and low pressure learning opportunities, including team quizzes.
In a face to face class, the simplest method is to ask students to line up according self-determined mathematics or statistics confidence or background (any criteria by which you can form diverse teams) and count off to create the desired number of groups.
In an online class, survey students and form teams based on availability for synchronous sessions, and academic background if possible. If fixed teams are not imperative, consider forming ad hoc teams weekly.
Formal roles are not assigned, but encourage student self-awareness. If they generally speak too much they can sometimes hold back, and if they are generally quiet, they should speak up. Teams are most effective when:
students prepare (complete readings & homework) before attending class/remote sessions.
ask good questions; this is just as valuable as being able to answer questions during team work. Assure them that it is to everyone's benefit and that there are no dumb questions!
Consider a peer evaluation or reflection 2-3 times during the course. I ask students to reflect and respond to two questions: 1) What is the team doing well regarding learning? 2) What could you do (individually) to be a better team member? There are many options, including peerassessment.com, iPeer, CATME, or SparkPlus.