Team-building Activities for REUs

Students working together in a cohort-building activity

Getting students to feel comfortable in their new relationships with peers can make the summer go much more smoothly and be more enjoyable for all involved. When students connect with each other at the start of the summer, they feel more comfortable in the program and have a better support group to help them deal with challenges in their research or other aspects of the REU. Here is an activity that helps students to connect with each other more quickly.

Here are some optional tools to use, if you were thinking of doing these things anyhow (click to jump to topic):

1. Ice-breaker/Team-buiding activities 

2. Building Deeper Connections 

3. Goal-setting Activity

4. Preparing for Mentoring Activity

5. Work Plan for Student

6. Pre-program Survey

1. Ice-breaker/Team-building Activities

This is an easy and fun ice-breaker that takes no preparation but does a great job of helping students to connect and feel more comfortable in the group. 

 

2. Building Deeper Connections 

Don't shy away from this very effective activity that facilitates deeper connections between pairs of students. Students sometimes report this as being the most profound part of their experience.

3. Goal-setting Activity

This is useful as a cohort-building activity, too. Have the students work on this individually, and then pair up to discuss their Wheel of Life with another student. Before the summer starts, get each student to take a "helicopter view" of their life, so that they can work on bringing things into balance. This tool of the Wheel of Life® is commonly used by professional life coaches to help an individual consider each area of their life in turn and assess what's off balance. 

4. Preparing for Mentoring Activity

This sheet briefly describes the mentoring relationship, and outlines some basic qualities of effective mentors and interns. It includes activities for small group discussions that bring out hopes, concerns, and plans for effectively communicating with their mentors.

5. Work Plan for Student

This sheet helps the student and their mentor lay out a roadmap and time table for summer research activities, noting key benchmarks or intermediate deadlines when specific phases of work should be completed. Meeting again in the middle and near the end of the internship will let the intern and mentor judge how far the student has gotten, and reorder priorities if things haven’t gone as expected or new dimensions have turned up.  

6. Pre-program Survey

This example of a pre-internship survey is ready to use, or available for adaptation to your REU program. For instance, question #7 could be adapted to an individual REU program according to the products students are to produce. The survey at the weblink and in the Word doc have the same questions.

Best of luck with your program this summer, and let the REU community know if you need ideas, tools, or support!

 

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