Everything You Need to Know about Group Work Learning
Self-studies can sometimes feel easier. You have the power to identify your problems and find the right solutions on your own. Also, it gives you the ability to choose what to learn, when, and how you want to know.
However, it denies you several teamwork benefits and experience. You don’t get the chance to examine other people’s perspectives on the same ideas or even get to practice your negotiation and discussion skills.
For such benefits, instructors and educators need to encourage group work to help give students teamwork or group dynamic experience. This article explained the vital benefits of group work and the steps instructors could use in creating effective learning groups.
Creating effective learning groups
The performance of the group significantly depends on its composition. For instance, if a group comprises all lousy students who don't read, lack respect, and are not self-motivated, the chances are high the group will have dismal performances.
However, when instructors create effective learning groups with self-motivated and responsible students who love reading, consulting and completing tasks, then such a group will see outstanding achievements.
In short, group composition will affect how efficiently the students work or share ideas for the entire group's success. So, to ensure Maximum Corporation of students groups, instructors must consider several factors, including:
Here is what you need to know about the factors:
Resolve on how to configure groups
There are two primary factors instructors must consider when creating effective learning groups. These include the size and roles or responsibilities needed of every group of students.
Group size is a crucial factor that affects how a group performs. Small groups tend to complete tasks faster than larger groups. But why's that? Putting more hands into a project only invites more trouble. There will be too many opinions and different visions or perceptions to decide. Of which others will always see theirs as the best, such causes delays in delivery time.
But that doesn’t mean large groups will fail. There are situations when larger groups are effective and can theoretically accomplish or complete more significant projects. However, your instructors must ensure they create manageable groups related to the learning objectives.
Some learning projects demand that every group member participates in different roles. One can be the group facilitator or the group leader who clarifies the objectives and ensures all members understand their roles. Other functions may include group recorders and reporters responsible for group intentions and decisions to the entire class.
Similarly, you may have group timekeepers, spies, and devils’ advocates responsible for improving the learners' debating skills and helping them see diverse points of view.
So, when creating effective learning groups, instructors must ensure they specify or allocate various roles to different students. Even better, ensure you give the positions according to the students' strengths and abilities. Still, don't be afraid to assign students roles that push them out of their comfort zones or develop and acquire a new skill.
Determine the characteristics of students
The characteristics of students will impact the effectiveness of the groups in achieving various learning goals. The following techniques will help you determine the characteristics of group members. Check on:
The best way to structure learning groups is to distribute different or particular knowledge, skills, and experience on various ideas and concepts. Ask students about their capabilities or issue them a skill and knowledge inventory to fill.
The inventory can identify the capable and incapable students then create a multi-skilled or diversified group that can handle different tasks.
If having a diversified perspective is one of your primary goals as an instructor, you have to compose groups of students of various diversity. So, create a group with different genders, cultures, and ethnicity.
Also, consider including students of different languages, socioeconomic, geographical, and political groups. Just ensure you have critical mass in every group so that no members feel secluded or isolated in one place.
Motivation is another crucial factor in determining the characteristics and groups in which you have to put a student. The truth is students have different motivations. Some would prioritize their group task to excel, while others will take the group task because it's a requirement by the teachers.
Similarly, some students take group tasks because they are genuinely interested in the project. Some will be contented with any minimum passing grade, and such students will not strive to pass exams or tests. When these students with different motivations are grouped, they'll often be in a constant war because their interests do not align.
So, it is essential that you first check out the various motivational factors of students before putting them in one place. Therefore, give out a questionnaire to students to write down their motivations, learning habits, and desired goals or grade.
Some students are introverts, while others are extroverts. These two characters can help determine their roles and responsibilities. For instance, the extroverted students will significantly suit the facilitators' role because of the talkative and social.
Also, introverts and detail-oriented students may be a good suit for time-keeping roles or ensuring other members are on schedule.
So, depending on the learning goals, assign groups that help students learn abilities and skills less experienced. This helps improve their personality growth.
No doubt, but there are high chances that students who have worked together in the past would easily corporate when they rejoin working. So, before placing students into a group, find out if they had previously worked on a job. You can also decide to separate them, especially when you want them to concentrate on the functions rather than their friendship.
When students are left to choose their own group members, the chances are high that they will create a monogamous group that may not support your learning objectives. Even worst, homogeneity is prone to making a flawed decision since it lacks diversity.
However, when instructors form groups, they will always bring together characteristics that will help them achieve their primary learning goals. But, you have to anticipate interpersonal wrangles.
Therefore, decide on who creates the group. But if you allow the students to form groups, you must guide them into developing a hybrid type of group. Ensure no group have more than two friends and include various skills, characteristics, and experiences.
Create a contingency plan to counteract any change in group membership
Change is inevitable, and sometimes the number of students registered in a course may change. It may reduce due to students withdrawing from the system or increase to the extent that it doesn't allow the composition you wanted.
Whichever the change in numbers, ensure you develop a contingency plan that will counteract the impact of enrollment or withdrawal of group members.
With the knowledge on how to create effective learning groups, let's now find out how instructors can manage their various discussion and learning groups.
How to manage learning groups
Apart from creating effective learning groups, educators are responsible for ensuring their various students adhere and commit to the rules and regulations of created groups. Here are some of the strategies you can deploy to ensure you manage your students.
Creating a group is demanding, plus you have to identify characteristics of students to ensure you develop a productive group. So, it would help if you had a plan to guide your operations. For instance, decide the kind of topics, themes, or objectives you want the student to achieve in time.
Once you have created a group that relates to your objectives, make students aware of various roles and duties they have to fulfill for the project's success.
You can also ensure you discuss the relevant concepts, plus the assessment and evaluation systems or the grading standards that you’ll use to rate their performances. This gives them a hint of what is expected of them, and it stimulates the spirit of hard work and commitment.
In addition, instructors should advise their students on the importance of team performance and provide them with some tips for working in a group, like advising students to:
Stir up productive group experience or dynamics
To effectively get the best out of the formed groups, instructors should encourage the productivity of the group by:
Tips to effectively work in group
For the success of every group, each member must participate or actively contribute. To do that, you must;
Actively listen and paying attention
Often, people fail to recognize their group members' ideas because they don't actively listen to their perceptions.
Therefore, every group facilitator and instructor should advocate for a productive environment where members listen to what their partners are saying. Individuals must pay close attention to everything they hear and resist the urge to interact with their peers.
Most importantly, establish a relationship where every member feels free to air out their mind. This ensures a positive group experience and dynamic. So, listening will help a person recognize other members’ perceptions, help appreciate them, and help facilitate a culture of understanding.
Establish common goals
Not every person shares the same goal so that group members can have a variety of objectives. Take your time and go through the primary reason behind the group's formation and consider what every member would want, especially from their motivations.
Without clear goals, the group member should brainstorm or conduct concept mapping to develop a standard or shared purpose.
Deploy the divide and conquer rule
When a group is too large, some people will lose focus and, in turn, participate less in the projects. Therefore, instructors may divide the group into small and more manageable sub-groups and assign them some responsibilities.
Watch out for group-think
Some group members are prone to altering their opinions or perspectives to align with what the majority is thinking. So, instructors should encourage their students to speak their minds and ensure they never agree to decisions because other members support them.
The success of groups depends on the effort of every member. So, facilitators should ensure every participant has a role they play. Most importantly, ensure every person feels comfortable with their functions.
Generate contact information of every group participant
Depending on the length or duration of the task, facilitators should ensure they exchange contacts. Information like emails and phone numbers will make it easy for members to reach out to each other in case of any activity or assignment.
Resolve your conflict quickly and fairly
There will often be a conflict of opinions where different people have varied perceptions of ideas. Of course, there are times when conflict is beneficial. Still, group members must ensure they find the best techniques of handling their opinion differences. Most importantly, ensure any conflict is immediately to aid proper group function and progress.
What are some of the group work activities or assignments instructors give?
To improve group engagement, instructors may decide to give different group work activities, including:
Depending on the course, instructors may give out open-ended questions, present a novel situation or even provide an interesting puzzle for students to explain and explore. Such discoveries will help the student stay on task.
This learning involves selecting a problem with no correct answers or good collaboration and sustainable investigation. Such tasks will make students research and look for their own explanations. They will make and evaluate choices to create a quality finished product.
Instructors may also provide;
Benefits of group work
Working in a group present various benefits for both the students and the instructors.
Benefits group work for students
Unlike self-learning, where you entirely depend on your perspective, group learning gives you the chance to listen, discuss, and negotiate various topics and ideas. This broadens your thinking and horizons as it forces you to listen to what others think and sees things.
Therefore, group learning being a social place, you should learn to compare and contrast then integrate their opinions into your thinking. Maybe your group's members might change your views. Even better, allow your group members to talk and never interrupt them, and by the end of the discussion, you'll be more insightful.
Group learning is one of the best ways students learn. The social situation ensures you interact with others and learn how they communicate about or address various concepts and the terms they use to describe their feelings.
Also, you may learn to discard terms or phrases that seem ineffective and, at the same time, pick on some quality words that you can use in the future to describe the phenomenon. And by the end of your group studies, you’ll be able to explain ideas in new ways as you integrate new phrases into your explanations.
Sometimes you may be the most knowledgeable person in an area, but sitting down watching others struggle or make wrong conclusions will frustrate you. You may then decide to make them understand.
So, be ready to refine your knowledge organize your content for easy delivery. Most importantly, suit the range or delivery in a way that makes sense to your group members. Still, you can deliver them in bits until your colleagues understand the concept.
Group work opens a window for students to deal with different personalities. You’ll be working with varied people, so you have to learn to deal with or manage their reactions.
The chances are that people may clash during a discussion, especially when they have to compete for learning preferences. Therefore, through a group, you learn and practice valuable real-life people skills that will ensure you are sensitive to different emotions.
One of the frustrating things about group work is that sometimes the final product for the project may not be what you wanted. Besides, you may not agree with all that is said. But, it gives the chance to learn and negotiate ideas with your various members. Group teaches you to accept or allow someone else’s idea or perspective to be part of a project.
A well-structured group ensures students can:
Through group projects, students can also develop collaborative skills that are essential in:
The group work presents several benefits to students as well as the instructors. It provides opportunities to teach, acquire new skills vocabulary, and help individuals deal with varied personalities.
But, creating an effective learning group can prove a daunting process, especially when you don't know the characteristics, skills, and what motivates individuals.
Therefore, to create a proper group, you must configure out several factors from the characteristics, the group's goal, roles for every person, and most importantly, consider the size of the group you create.