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Diverging and Converging for Team-Based Learning

Written by Tony Morgan, Louisa Hill, Lena Jaspersen, Emma Peasland


Diverging and Converging for Team-Based Learning 

Working on team-based activities can be challenging for many students. For example, some students feel uncomfortable or not sufficiently confident to actively and consistently engage during group discussions.  

While this can be detrimental to team-based activities, more importantly, it can impact individual student learning and experiences. This can be particularly the case for students who struggle with confidence, have more introverted personalities and/or where English is not their first language. 

Diverging and converging is a simple, effective and inclusive approach for encouraging and supporting students to engage during team-based activities. 

  • In the Diverge Step, everyone in the group is encouraged to provide individual insights and/or inputs into a task. To ensure students are not influenced or intimidated by their peers, this step is carried out in silence to enable each student to provide their unique input. 
  • In the following Converge Step, the group works together to review the individual inputs and make team-based decisions before progressing to the next steps. 

The Interdisciplinary and Digitally Enhanced learning and enhancing Employability Skills (I-DE-ES) LITE Project has carried out research into the benefits of this approach. The project has taken input from student experiences of undertaking the ’Innovation Thinking and Practice’ module. During this module, diverse interdisciplinary teams of student work on real-world innovation challenges. They also make extensive use of diverge and converge activities, write reflective journals and deliver a summative assignment essay. 

The project has identified the following benefits: 

  • Improved inclusivity – by providing a mechanism where all students feel comfortable and are encouraged to engage in team-based activities – student groups identified as having benefitted include less confident students, introverted students and students where English is not their first language 
  • Improved diversity of inputs – by maximising individual team member engagement 
  • Increased quality of outputs – by using the diversity and combined power of the team to make decisions 

Access the How to Guide 

The approach is simple and easy to use. 

To enable wider use of the Diverge-Converge approach, one of the outputs of the I-DE-ES LITE Project is a simple “How to Guide” that other academics can use to apply the approach to their own teaching.  

The guide includes a simple walk-through of the steps required both in the classroom and virtual learning environments, along with a practical example to bring the approach to life.  

The guide is available in the following formats: (this link is accessible by staff and students at the University of Leeds, please contact Tony using the details below if you work or study elsewhere and would like a copy of the slides)

What Our Students Say: 

  • “We diverged so as not to be influenced by others’ ideas. When we converged, our ideas were far more diverse than before.”  
  • “Quieter members of the group are now becoming more confident and sharing their ideas.”  
  • “Helps to get input without causing anxiety because of having to speak in front of a group.” 
  • “In teamwork individual opinions often get ignored due to ‘group think’. I plan to use this approach in my future career.” 

For More Information 

Contact Tony Morgan in the I-DE-ES LITE Project team