Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tips for Working with Groups to Identify Mental Models

Tips for Working with Groups to Identify Beliefs

When working in groups it is helpful to identify what beliefs we each bring to our work. When exploring a topic, a quick and easy way to identify beliefs in a group is to ask each person to write down a belief they have about a particular topic on a notecard.

If for example, you were exploring beliefs about sustainability, you would ask people to write down a belief they have about sustainability i.e. A belief I have about sustainability is ______. I often ask for a couple of people to share a belief with the group before people write their belief down. This will help give an example for the group. It will also demonstrate that there is no right answer. There are no right or wrong beliefs. It is an opportunity to think about what we believe and to explore with others their beliefs.

After people write down their belief, ask them to stand up and walk around the room to find someone not at their table to share their belief with, and to learn the other person’s belief. People can bring pencils, and take notes, it is not a memory test.

After this, ask them to find a second person to pair with, and in this round each person will share what they learned from the first person they talked to. Then each person will go back to their tables and discuss the beliefs they learned about, the patterns and themes they are noticing, and anything that surprised them. Some reflection about how this applies to the groups ability to work together is very useful.

Cassandra at

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