Group Project Objective
This activity focuses on the ability of individuals to work toward consensus, negotiate, demonstrate their active listening, communication skills, inclusion and collaboration qualities, and ability to attend to the task at hand. Additionally, the exercise will allow raters to screen for potential bias or prejudice, as well as the ability to manage conflict and stress successfully.
Each candidate will need a copy of the candidate descriptions worksheet and a writing utensil to complete the activity.
The process is a timed exercise, totally 45 minutes.
The group will not be penalized if they have not completed the task when the time has expired.
Group Project Description
Imagine that you are part of an advisory board that has been tasked with selecting a commencement speaker for a university’s upcoming graduation ceremony. The university has offered you brief profiles about each potential speaker (“Candidate Descriptions”), as well as some major events and issues that are important to students on campus (“Campus Factors”). Your job is to achieve consensus among the advisory board as to which speaker should be invited to address the graduating class. While all potential speakers are stellar, no candidate is perfect. Given the climate of the university and the information you have, it will be your task to determine who would be the best commencement speaker.
Candidates’ task is to select a commencement speaker from those described on the handout.
- Make individual selections
- Collaborate with the others in the group (collectively, the “advising board”) to discuss the strengths of the potential speaker
- Revaluate individual selections
- Collaborate with others to achieve consensus on which speaker will be selected
The participants should be instructed that consensus is the ultimate goal and a majority vote is not sufficient.
Commencement Speaker Definition
A commencement speech or commencement address is a speech given to graduation students, generally at a university, generally in the United States, although the term is also used for secondary education institutions. The “commencement” is a ceremony in which degrees or diplomas are conferred upon graduation students. A commencement speech is typically given by a notable figure in the community, during the commencement exercise. The person giving such a speech is known as a commencement speaker. Very common, colleges or universities will invite politicians, important citizens, or other notable speakers to address the graduating class.
Indicators for a Successful Commencement Address
Most successful commencement addresses include the following key factors:
- Provides wisdom or insight that graduates can take with them in life
- Increase the reputation of the university by bringing their own positive reputation to campus
- Offer thoughts or comments on important issues that are affecting campus or the broader national landscape
- Is engaging and entertaining (many commencement addresses go viral, providing positive press for the university or institution they spoke at)
- Challenges both the audience and the broader community to adopt a mindset or take an action