In a POGIL classroom, a teacher is not the expert provider of knowledge, but rather a guide in the process of learning, in developing skills, and in developing their own understanding. In this sense, the instructor will act as facilitator, leader, monitor/assessor and evaluator.
The instructor creates the learning environment by developing and explaining the lesson; determining the objectives (both content objectives and process skills objectives); defining the expected behaviors and criteria for success; and establishing the organization (i.e. the goal/reward structure, the team structure, and the time structure). During the class, the instructor monitors the progress of the groups and responds to questions. Typically the instructor will not answer these questions directly, but will instead guide students to answers by asking questions that will lead them in the correct direction. The instructor may also preemptively ask questions of groups or individuals to check understanding or to make sure the group is working as a team. The instructor provides closure to the lesson by asking team members to report answers, summarize the major points, and to explain the strategies, actions, and results of the team. The instructor might also ask team members to report on a process skill they may have been charged to observe and comment on.
There are a variety of techniques that can be used to manage whole class discussions and/or the pace of the class, including stopping at key points to report out. Involving the students in whole class discussion increases motivation and performance and provides them with opportunities to develop communication and thinking skills. Spokespersons from different teams can be called upon to share their team’s responses (including their reasoning) to one or more of the questions, or spokespersons can be exchanged between teams.
Capturing group work is frequently done using recorder’s reports. These reports can contain one or more of the following items as appropriate: the team’s answers to the questions in the activity that were addressed during that session, a summary of the important concepts that they developed from the activity, the team’s solutions to some or all of the problems that they worked. The report gives students the opportunity to assess their performance and reflect on what they have learned.
The composition of a team determines its dynamics and effectiveness. Teams of three or four students work well for guided-inquiry and problem-solving activities. Tasks should be distributed among team members and complementary roles can be assigned to promote interdependence and involvement from everyone. We have found that the roles of manager, spokesperson, recorder, and strategy analyst work well, but roles can be invented to meet any needs that arise.
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