By Robert Gardner
STUDENTS MUST WRITE RÉSUMÉS
TO LAND A SPOT IN THEIR CLASS WORKGROUPS
When students are asked to arrange themselves into groups,
the results are usually mixed. Friends pick one another and
the best students seek each other out, leaving the weaker
students together and the groups unbalanced. The extent of
the person's knowledge of the subject matter and his
or her experience are rarely considered. Indeed, how could
they be, without, say, a résumé? Lloyd Hile,
professor of chemical engineering at California State University,
Long Beach (CSULB), considered this question and decided that
pouring over résumés could help his students
put together a better group. After all, building effective
teams is a skill they will have to master when they leave
school and begin their careers.
Over the past four years, Hile has had his senior chemical
engineering lab students write résumés. And
since students in these classes spend most of their time working
in groups, it seemed logical to have them use résumés
to form their groups. "I was surprised how many students,"
Hile says, "at the senior level didn't already
have a résumé." In advising students on
writing their résumés, Hile suggests templates
on word processing programs like Microsoft Word and going
to the CSULB Career Development Center. The ones developed
over time and in multiple iterations are the best, he says.
Although most students acknowledge the need for a résumé,
they don't all take the exercise seriously. Hile says
there are always one or two students who show up to class
without a résumé. "I tell them right then
and there to pull out a piece of paper and write something
Once all the students have turned in their résumés,
Hile covers the names and any identifying information with
Post-it notes and lays them on a table. He then chooses several
"team selectors" from among those students who
have gotten the best grades in the prerequisite courses. This
method ensures that every group created has at least one strong
student. "I want to make sure that each group has a
rock that it can hang from," Hile says.
Team selectors then draw numbers from a hat to determine
the order of selection. The selectors choose their teams in
order and then alternate (so the person who chose first last
time picks last the next) until all the teams are chosen.
Hile conducts a post mortem after the teams are selected,
asking students why they made the choices they did. Part of
the discussion, Hile says, focuses on the kinds of things
that should be on a résumé. The goals of the
exercise are twofold: to get students to understand that a
résumé is an important piece of paper and to
help them learn how to build an effective team.
Robert Gardner is Associate Editor of Prism Magazine.