1. Create the first set of groups
2. Play with group composition
When we first piloted the course, we thought mixing abilities would be key to a group's success. But that didn't pan out to be the case. Some lower students could be shy about asking for help, and some stronger students could be overbearing and unsympathetic to students who didn't work as quickly. Grouping students who work well together in terms of personality and who are similar in ability level has shown to work fairly well. Group interaction is a complex thing, so there's not one right way to compose groups. Play with it throughout the semester to find what works for your class and you.