How do students reach agreement?

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Episode 506: Trying to think Florida International University

In collaborative group work, we hope students will contribute to and evaluate each other’s developing ideas, ideally reaching consensus on a scientifically sound conclusion. Reaching agreement entails sharing reasoning, evaluating one another’s ideas, and deciding who to trust and why. How do students reach agreement in collaborative work?

January 12, 2022

Pedagogy Content
Facilitating collaboration
Physics Content

Lesson Contents (4 MB)Student Handout
Transcript, discussion questions, and problem

(2 MB)Specific Lesson Guide
Facilitator's guide for this lesson

(1 MB)General Facilitator's Guide
Background and best practices

(204 MB)Video
Captioned video


Sample Discussion Prompts

  1. What did you notice about this episode? Talk to a partner about what stood out to you.
  2. Ariana says (perhaps anxiously), “I’m trying to think at the same time as I’m looking at what you’re both doing” (line 1). Explain what you think is going on for her. Have you experienced or observed this yourself?
  3. Cora says, “We can solve it and then put the work together” (line 2). What model of group work does she seem to be suggesting?
  4. Beatriz says “I rather trust you” (line 4, apparently to Cora). What reasons does she give for her trust (lines 4 and 11)? Are these reasons about Cora herself, or about the quality of Cora’s possible solution
  5. What does this episode suggest about how students reach agreement?