For the groupwork that takes place in the course, at times you have control over who your groupmates are and at times you do not. For the RPEs, you are all invited to specify your preferences for groupmates and to indicate your top 3 choices for RPE team. Requests are handled by the TAs first come first served and you are urged to send these in very quickly. The RPE chart on the page begins to grow so that you can see which slots are already full. In order to split the class into two groups (one discussing topic of the week Wed and one on Fri) I form that group1 and group2 split. I try to keep RPE groupmates together in a group (at times this allows the day of the week not being used for discussion to be a time when the RPE team can connect online). For Assignment 4, I also form the groups and here I try to be somewhat careful to spread out some of the more absent or less talented students in the class amongst the groups, for fairness. I tend to grade groupwork very leniently. The main purpose of our Assignment 4 is to allow students some free reign in their thinking. We set aside one date when groupmates are to be collaborating, to move forward and during that time period I will be available to answer questions; I will also post some general advice about strategies for organizing a group.
While most of our weeks have a topic of the week and readings, on some occasions we are all together to handle a particular discussion. This happens for our guest lecture, for an early brainstorming exercise (how to solve a problem), a sharing exercise towards the end of term (if I ruled the world), and for the final class where we have a chance to reflect on the entire experience. On this last day there are typically a few "awards" and commendations for certain classmates as well. Small group discussion is arranged for two topics where a broader view is valuable for the class to see (gender balance and marginalization; video games and children). So we are also all together on these dates.