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Mary Dixson, PhD, currently serves as Senior Distinguished Lecturer in Communication at UTSA and has over fifteen years of higher education administration experience including Associate Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning Services, Interim Dean of Libraries (UTSA) and Dean of Interdisciplinary Programs (NVC). She has spent ten years promoting teaching excellence and innovation, overseeing grants, fundraising, distance learning, libraries, service learning, innovation, assessment, and accreditation.

Mary has been an author, manager, and Principal Investigator on a variety of grants. She has twenty years of experience teaching communication courses at various colleges and universities. She is published in the Journal of Communication, Presidential Studies Quarterly, and Political Communication, and has presented at numerous academic conferences. She recently published a book for students titled From College to Career: Making the Leap to a New Life.

In addition to her academic experience, Dixson has been employed in sales, recruiting, public relations, project management, and executive leadership in educational, private and non-profit sectors. She has been a writer and editor for San Antonio City Pages Magazine. She holds a certification in nonprofit management from the University of Texas at Austin and consults with organizations and individuals on communication skills and team building. She is also an avid gardener and a slow runner.

PRESENTATION: Creating Group Work (that Works)


Group project teach important skills that employers want, but they also create frustration and barriers for students and faculty. This talk offers insight into the challenges, opportunities, and techniques that can transform group work into a valuable learning experience.


Abstract: Faculty create group projects to engage Students, and teach important teamwork skills. Group communication skills are highly sought after by employers and are required throughout our lives. At the same time, create frustration for both students and faculty. Students complain about workload and lack of effort, scheduling challenges, and ongoing group conflicts. Faculty struggle with assigning and assessing group work and often spend large amounts of time mediating disagreements. As we transition from teaching Millennials to Generation Z, the stress around group projects only worsens.  Founded in research about social loafing and personal motivation, this session offers evidence based techniques for forming groups, teaching group processes, and practices for creating assignments appropriate to group work.


Learning Outcomes:

(1) Know specific techniques for setting up groups for success.

(2) Understand essential processes and procedures groups use to move forward successfully, and will be able to use their assignments.

(3) Create assignments appropriate to group work.


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