The Value of Group Work

For the past week in Dr. McCoy’s class we have been doing a collaborative group blog post in small groups of around 5-7. I have also been getting a variety of assignments with group work over the past semester in other classes as well. This led me to have many different experiences while working in multiple group assignments. Over the past semester I have had some good and bad experiences with group collaboration, and it got me thinking about the idea if this is really beneficial for students. I decided to look more into this idea of group work and if it’s effective or not and why.

I’ve often found that when working in a group setting you have to know your peers so you can be comfortable with the group. If we were assigned this project on the first day of class I feel that it would’ve taken us longer to actually start the work. This is due to the fact that we didn’t know one another yet or how our classmates work, but over the semester I got to know my classmates and that gave me the confidence to just jump right in with my group members and start collaborating ideas.

As a future teacher I thought it would be good to see the ways it affects students. In my experience group collaboration can be effective if you do it correctly. Some things I have found that works is if it’s not a sporadic idea to make it a group lesson. The teacher should make sure that it will actually work out as a group project and wouldn’t be better as an individual project. But also, if it has a lot of components to it teachers can break it down for students into sections. Some other ways to make sure group work is effective is if you have the students get to know one another through other work during class, for example, discussion groups to talk about texts, getting into groups to share an activity you already had them do, or to even have them sit in groups during class. These are some ways to have the students interact before they are assigned a group assignment.

Upon further research I found the Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching (CIRT) did research on this subject; they explained that group work can have a positive impact on learning outcomes in many ways. It promotes a setting where collaboration and cooperation are valued, and it teaches them lifelong skills. Furthermore, CIRT went over some advantages and disadvantages of how group work is effective. The advantages consist of students developing communication and teamwork skills, it teaches students to plan more effectively and manage their time and students therefore hold one another accountable and responsible. Another advantage that CIRT instructed was that the content is reinforced as students work together and “teach” each other, which improves their understanding of the subject. As there are some advantages there is also disadvantaging to group work; this consists of students can sometimes struggle with making decisions in a group setting and the teachers have to make sure that the assignments are designed to ensure that all members will be active participants. Another disadvantage is that the teachers will need to monitor each group, provide feedback and assistance when necessary, which may be more time consuming than traditional teaching formats.

To sum up this inquiry I have come up with the conclusion that it depends on the classroom and the teacher to ultimately know if group work will be effective or not. The teacher knows what’s best for their students and will help them along the way with either decision. As a teacher who hopefully will have my own classroom in a few years, I look forward to thinking about the outcomes on whether a group assignment will work best or not. Whichever I choose I will always guide my students to do their best.

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