2gnō.me in the Classroom (case study)

PENN STATE, 2014 --- In college, collaborative projects are common to prepare students for the creative workplace. Groups are typically formed in one of two ways: students self-select partners or they are divided at random. Personalities and interpersonal dynamics are not factored in. Issues inevitably arise from these groupings: incompatibility and intergroup tension, end of semester finger pointing, lack of meaningful engagement in the work, and stalled or incomplete work. These common issues lead to a diminished educational experience.

Time for Feedback


​In fall 2013, three courses at Penn State University utilized 2gnō.me to formulate working groups for coursework. Professor Pelin Bicen asked students in two different courses to take the 2gnō.me “first impression” assessment at the start of the course. One was introductory marketing class with a mix of students from different majors and academic backgrounds, and the other was a senior-level business marketing course. Students with similar profiles were grouped together, and spent the semester working on long-term projects as a team. In the control group - a similarly comprised marketing courses - groups were chosen at random.

“Marketing courses heavily rely on team projects. And one of the most challenging aspects of team projects is the team participation," says Professor Pelin Bicen. "I have been teaching for the last four years, and I saw that when students don’t have participative team atmosphere, the quality of their work significantly drops. They get frustrated and that psychology significantly affects the quality of the work. I hear from other professors that it is a common phenomenon.”

Throughout the course of the semester, Professor Bicen observed the different working styles of the groups, and periodically asked students for qualitative feedback on their experiences. The groups formed using 2gnō.me data were by far more successful than the groups formed at random. Students also benefitted from the platform’s peer feedback, which gave insights into how their classmates perceived them. For example, results showed that male students were overconfident (findings show that they think they are more confident than their friends think that they are), and female students were underconfident (their peers thought that they are more confident than they think they are). These insights helped guide Professor Bicen in class discussions.

“The results gave me a different angle to get to know students. I had more empathy towards students. I generally don’t get these kinds of insights until after the mid-semester, and it is a bit late to bond with students," says Professor Bicen. "So 2gnō.me is a very effective tool to build strong relationships with students.”

Overall, the students found that groups formed using accurate insights into their individual profiles were much more pleasant than those formed at random. Students reported a 25% improvement in team dynamics, better overall learning outcomes, and above average retention of the material.

“I was quite pleased with the quality of our work as a team. I have matched with many teams in other classes. But this is the first time I am loving my team members," says PennState finance major in Professor Bicen's class. "You can see the outcome in the quality of our work. We got A’s from all steps of the project. This usually doesn't happen in groups for me!”

Find out how to apply soft skills to your classroom here.