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Group meetings

This page will provide some ideas regarding how you might organize and run engaging and useful group meetings with your advisees.


Contact email template

In order to increase engagement with the meetings you organize, it is important for students to realize that they are required to attend. The following is an example of an email that may be used to organize meetings with your advisees. This email may be used for both individual meetings and group meetings. Note that the email describes and 'opt-out' system. Thus, the advisee is expected to attend unless they provide a legitimate reason for not being able to do so.

Opt-out contact email from academic advisors to advisees.

[Faculty/ Departmental logo] [CTL logo]

Hi [First name]

I’ve been allocated as your academic advisor, I’m a member of the [department] and teach on [relevant course/module]. I’d like to welcome you to the University of Limerick and specifically the [department name].

Our meeting

The purpose of an academic advisor is to provide support for students while at the University of Limerick. The supports provided by an academic advisor can be varied and we can discuss them when we meet. Generally, we will focus on how to make your time in UL as successful as possible.

As part of the First 7 Weeks program, Week 3 is ‘Meet your Advisor’ week so I have scheduled a time in Week 3 for us to meet and would like to suggest [time][date][location].

It is important that you attend this meeting. If you cannot make this time, for any reason, please let me know and we can reschedule. This meeting is an initial ‘meet and greet’ and I’ll give you an idea as to what the PASS (Personal Academic Support System) entails. We can identify any concerns you might have and try to outline a successful strategy you can utilize this semester.

The PASS system

UL has a strong commitment to students in their first year of third level education and through the PASS there are a number of meetings and events planned for you during your first year which will involve you and your classmates. As part of the PASS we will meet twice each semester and there will be two group activities per semester.

The PASS system is an integral part of your first year experience with the aim of facilitating your academic and broader student transition to third level education.

Evaluating PASS

UL are really interested in understanding your experience of the PASS system and what you find beneficial or what you feel should be altered about the system. With that in mind we’ll ask your opinion about the process along the way and at the end of your first year.

I look forward to meeting you.


Ice breakers for group sessions

Feedback from the PASS pilots suggests that getting students to engage and participate in group meetings can sometimes be challenging. While the purpose of the group meeting -may have a particular focus (study-skills, essay writing, academic procrastination etc.) it can be helpful to have a number of ways to help your students relax and get involved. Ice-breakers are an easy way to facilitate this and can take as little as 10 minutes at the beginning of the meeting. The following are examples of some fun ice-breakers you may wish to try in your meetings...

1.In a circle Learn Everyone’s Name (can use a small ball to make it more fun)


2.Ice Breaker – ‘Fact or Fiction?’

Ask everyone to write on a piece of paper THREE things about themselves which may not be known to the others in the group. Two are true and one is not. Taking turns they read out the three ‘facts’ about themselves and the rest of the group votes which are true and false. There are always surprises. This simple activity is always fun, and helps the group and leaders get to know more about each other.


3.Name That Person

Divide group into two teams and nominate a team leader. Give each person a blank piece of card. Ask them to write two/three little known facts about themselves on their card. Write down information such as:  I have a pet iguana, I was born in Iceland, my favourite food is spinach, my grandmother is called Doris and my favourite colour is vermillion. Collect the cards into two team piles. The team leader draws one card from the opposing team pile. Each team tries to name the person in as few clues as possible. Five points if they get it on the first clue, then 4, 3, 2, 1, 0. The team with the most points wins. (Note: if you select the most obscure facts first, it will increase the level of competition and general head scratching!).


4.People Bingo

Great for new groups. Make a 5 by 4 grid on a piece of card and duplicate for everyone in your group. Supply pens or pencils if neccessary. Each box contains one of the statements below. Encourage the group to mix, talk to everyone to try and complete their card. If one of the items listed on the bingo card relates to the person they are talking with, have them sign their name in that box.End the activity after 10 minutes and review some of the interesting facts the group has discovered about each other. You can add your own statements appropriate for your group.

Has brown eyes
Has made the longest journey
Has eaten the weirdest food
Plays Tennis
Is wearing blue
Speaks a foreign language
Knows what a muntjak is (it's a small deer)
Plays a musical instrument
Has 2 or more pets
Has been to the most foreign countries
Hates broccoli
Has 2 or more siblings
Name begins with an 'S'
Loves Chinese food
Loves to ski
Knows what a quark is (A quark is a tiny theoretical particle that makes up protons and neutrons in the atomic nucleus. So there!)
Likes to get up early
Someone who’s favourite TV show is Gilmore Girls


5.Line Up

Divide the group in half and ask each half to line up. See which side can do this the fastest. Ask the group to form a new line in order of:

Height, from smallest to tallest.
Birthdays, from January through to December.
Shoe size, from smallest to largest.
Alphabetical first names (A-Z).
Choose a family member, alphabetical (A-Z).


6.The Best Game

Summary: Who has The Highest... Jump? The Longest... Stare in a Staring Contest? This game showcases hidden and incredibly random talents and skills. Fun group game, especially for groups getting to know one another. Goal: Win the category points for your team.How to Play The Best Game: Arrange everyone into groups of 4 or 5. Everyone has to participate in at least one round. Explain the rules: You will be announcing a contest category for the group (for example, “The Tallest”). Each group needs to select one person who they think will win the category. There'll be a category contest and if a person has "the best" within the category, his or her team gets a point. Each group needs to select one person from their group who they think will win the category. Reveal the specific action or measurement the selected people have to do to win the contest (example: Whoever has the “The Tallest” thumb). The person with the best action or measurement wins a point for their team. The team with the most points wins the game.

The Best Game List of Ideas:

The Tallest....Thumb
The Fastest....To spell aluminium
The Highest….Jumper
The Longest....Stare in Staring Contest
The Fastest....Alphabet Song Singer
The Smallest....Shoe Size
The Strongest....Thumb for a Thumb War
The Longest....Hair
The Best….Coin Spinner


7.Rock Paper Scissors Tournament

The key to its appeal is to sell it as a "Rock Paper Scissors" tournament.   If you have a group of 24 students, to be crowned "Rock Paper Scissors Champion", a student would need to win five consecutive games (which is no mean feat!). It's not complex to run - basically have students pair off and play a game against each other.  You may not have an even number of students but with a bit of juggling it sorts itself out. We normally make it the best of 3 rounds, so the winner is the first to two wins.  The "winners" go to one side of the room, the "losers" to the other.  The process repeats itself - the group of winners pair off and play until there's only two students left.  They key is to gather everyone around and build the suspense between each game.  We make the Grand Final the best of 5 to help build the tension. 


8.Ah Um Game

Summary: Kick the “ah, um” habit and avoid these words in natural conversation. Goal: Avoid saying the taboo words “Ah”, “Um”, “Like”, or “You Know”. Separate everyone into groups of about three or four. A person must talk to their group about a certain topic for one full minute without saying the following taboo words: “Ah”, “Um”, “Like”, or “You Know”. If the person does not say the taboo words in the round, then the person can move to the second round. If they accidentally say a taboo word, then it'll be the next person's turn. Have one person in each group volunteer to be first. Use the timer/watch to track a minute and announce one of the topics listed below. Afterwards, have a different person from each team volunteer to go next and repeat the same exercise as above. The people who avoid saying the taboo words are the winners of the game.

List of Topic Ideas:

Favourite Movie
Favourite Animal
Best Gift
Favourite TV Show
What did you do last week?
Summer Activities
Birthday Party
What would you do with €10,000?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
What is your favourite activity, e.g. sports, playing music, dancing, cooking etc.?
What is your favourite dessert?



9.Two Extremes

A game of two extremes! This is a simple ice breaker to get people up and moving. It’s a fun way for students to get to know each other and to share a little about themselves with others. Create an imaginary line from one end of the room to the other. Instruct people to move to a point on the line to indicate where they stand on a particular issue. For example - move to the left hand side of the room if you like chocolate, the right hand side if you like strawberry. If people don't have a strong opinion they stand in the middle. Continue with other examples / extremes:

Fold toilet paper or Scrunch
Sleep in or Get up Early?
Big party or intimate dinner?
Dance or Alternative Music
Would you rather go to the football or a concert
Sweet or Savory
Do homework or do the dishes
Facebook or Twitter
Summer or Winter
Surf or Skate
Would you rather be beautiful or smart?
Be taller or shorter?