http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071105095721.htm

The above link is an extract from ‘Science Daily’ entitled ‘Teamwork Improves Learning And Career Success’ that discusses the findings from a 2 year study at The Pennsylvania State University. The study found that students learn better and develop higher-level skills by participating in collaborative activities as opposed to traditional classroom teaching.

Dr. Elsa Sanchez, one of the lecturers who conducted the research claims that “While traditional lectures transfer knowledge, lectures are far less conducive to facilitating higher levels of thinking, such as application of concepts and analysis and synthesis of information.” (Sanchez 2007).

This is a valid point to some degree however I think that it is a bit misleading to suggest that lectures cannot facilitate the latter methods of learning. Still, working in groups can certainly encourage higher levels of thinking as it is an unusual way of learning and working. Students are used to working individually and will develop their own method of working, and so being part of a team introduces behavior which is new and unfamiliar. Therefore this is often seen as negative and a disadvantage to the students learning from their own perspective as they have their own way of doing things and now have to deal with working in a particular way which may be out of their comfort zone. However this situation should be embraced as it is good practise to develop these skills. This is something Sanchez also discusses when she identifies that collaborative activity at university is a great benefit to help produce real-world skills that are essential after graduation and that employees who possess these skills will help promote success. (Sanchez 2007)

http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/why-students-hate-groups/

I also came across this blog extract which looks at group work from a different angle to that of the one above. Dr. Maryellen Weimer focuses on ‘Why Students Hate Groups’ and this gained my attention as my project revolves around the idea that group work in an educational environment is not always received well as the benefits are easily missed or misunderstood. Although I am focusing on it from more of a post project reflective angle, this blog is useful as I can understand where the disapproval stems from, which in turn will allow me to produce my work that is more appealing to my audience.

Weimer identifies 3 key reasons that students tend to “hate group work” – the unfamiliarity of learning in a social context, the unbalanced work contribution and individual vulnerability/ misunderstanding of group dynamics. I find the last 2 points very interesting and again, they help me build on those 5 characteristics I identified in an earlier post (14/02/15). She claims that often students can be

“if a student lets the group down, the rest of the group takes up the slack or suffers the consequences. Generally students take up the slack, but doing so engenders lots of hostility toward the process” (Weimer 2008).
Whilst this is true, it is very good practise to learn how to deal with this situation as it can be common within group work. So the ability to reflect on what happened and how it was resolved is excellent practise as often it can be a difficult resolution and there can be a lot learnt by reflecting on what happened and the implications of the actions of each group member.

This research has helped me better understand the process of group working, its importance and the dynamics of team work that give me more confidence in identifying why it is important for individuals  to reflect on group work which I can apply to my project.

References

ScienceDaily. (2007) ‘Teamwork Improves Learning And Career Success’. American Society for Horticultural Science. Journal [online]. Available at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071105095721.htm [Accessed on 17/02/15]
Weimer, Maryellen. (2008) ‘Why Students Hate Groups’. Faculty Focus, Higher Ed Teaching Strategies From Magna Publications. [blog]. Available at: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/why-students-hate-groups/ [Accessed on 17/02/15]

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