Share Expectations/alx

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Share Expectations
Contributors Christian Köppe
Last modification May 16, 2017
Source Köppe (2012)[1][2]
Pattern formats OPR Alexandrian
Learning domain

You have to work in a group on an assignment and you might not have worked with all group members before.


Students might have different expectations of the results and the way of working on the assignment. This often leads to conflicts or an inefficient way of working.

Different Priorities. The priorities students assign to school in general and to specific courses and assignments can differ, depending on their interests. It could also be that they have a job beside their study or have a child.

Different Goals. Students might have different goals: some want a good grade, some want to learn a lot, and some just want to pass the course.

Assuming Similarity. If students don’t know the goals or priorities of fellow students, they tend to assume that they are identical to their own.

Teacher Selects Teams. Often the teacher determines which students will have to work together on an assignment. As this might be a new group constellation, it is also possible that the students do not know each other’s goals and priorities.


Therefore: Make an opportunity to reflect on the expectations of all group members. Align them, agree on a common set, document them, and have all members indicating acceptance of and commitment to this agreement.

Your own goals and priorities are influencing what you expect from others, but their goals and priorities aren’t necessarily matching with your expectations. It is therefore always good to reflect on the expectations of every team member, especially in the beginning of the assignment but also on a regular basis during the assignment. The result will be a common set of expectations, like e.g. we all just want to pass the course, we all go for the highest grade, or we will work most of the time face-to-face. Coming to such a common set requires social skills of all team members, everyone should get attention and all expectations should be respected.

If it shows that the goals or priorities differ, then different roles could be assigned to different team members. In some cases it might also be necessary to Fill Knowledge Gaps (Fill Knowledge Gaps) or to Ask for Individual Grading (Ask for Individual Grading). If you already know the other team members, it still is a good idea to reflect on their expectations and your own, as goals and priorities might change over time.

One result of applying the solution could be a summary in a Team Expectations Agreement, made and agreed on by all team members. This could then also be used to prevent students from making claims about what they (thought they) were supposed to do. As this is public, there is a lower chance that students will violate this agreement[3] Even if all members have the same expectations and goals, it can happen that some members do not fulfill them. If this is detected, e.g. during a regular check, you should Give A First Warning (Give A First Warning) to these members.

A group of students had to work together on a team assignment in a course on model driven development. They hadn’t worked together before, and some of them had made some less good experiences during their last team assignment because of some non-cooperating students. The group therefore decided to look at what they expect from each other. It became clear that they all wanted to learn as much as possible in the project and that they all want to start early working on it instead of waiting until the deadline approaches. They wrote this down in a "team expectations agreement", together with some rules for their group like "if a student is not able to attend a meeting, he/she should notify the group about this one day in advance" or "all team members have to review the deliverables of the team in order to improve the quality and to share the knowledge".


  1. Köppe, C. (2012). Learning patterns for group assignments: part 1. In Proceedings of the 19th Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (PLoP 2012). The Hillside Group.
  2. Also mentioned in de Cortie, T., van Broeckhuijsen, R., Bosma, G., & Köppe, C. (2013). Learning patterns for group assignments: part 2. In Proceedings of the 20th Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (PLoP 2013). The Hillside Group.
  3. Oakley, B., Felder, R. M., Brent, R., & Elhajj, I. (2004). Turning student groups into effective teams. Journal of student centered learning, 2(1), 9-34.