As students progress towards higher education, they will not only be working with themselves but also with other students. Collaboration is greatly emphasized in higher education such as in universities and polytechnics, and one of the ways this can be seen is through group projects or works.
Despite its many benefits, however, group work seems to have lost its appeal among students. Many students prefer working by themselves and even choose schools that would allow fewer group activities for this reason. Students think that since they can do the project alone, they don’t need to be in groups to complete it. However, group work does have its advantages, as well as disadvantages. In this article, we’ll dive into the two sides of group work and how to make working in groups more conducive for students.
The ability of students to collaborate with others, think critically, and solve problems is recognized to be reflected a lot during group work. Their intellectual, social, and emotional learning are also improved.
Since collaboration is the heart of group work, students will have to interact a lot with the members of their group to complete their tasks and finish their projects. Their capacity for active listening, conversation, and communication is put to the test then. They will be able to get to know their groupmates as people and will understand them better in order to also work on the project. It is known that though it will be group work, each member may have a specific task. If they start to get to know their members better, they may also understand better which area their members work best to speed up their tasks and complete the project with great results. They may also learn to be more flexible and adapt to other students’ schedules as well as their working styles.
Student problem-solving opportunities are increased and learning is facilitated by group work. Group talks, according to studies, improve learning and memory. This is because it enables them to digest knowledge and practically apply it. Think of it as talking with your friends, you will be more inclined to pay closer attention to what they are saying in an informal setting, and will be more likely to remember it.
Group work also helps digest knowledge easier as you can cut down pieces of it and assign them to different members. This way, one member can be the expert on one topic and share what they have learned with their members. This wouldn’t burden students who have to study everything by themselves all at once.
Group work makes use of all the members of the group. This means that during group discussions, students get to share different kinds of perspectives and opinions. They can exchange feedback with each other and share ideas which also helps develop their reasoning skills.
Group work has numerous benefits for students, but it can also hamper their ability to learn. This is especially true in unfavorable situations like significant group disagreements or when some members don’t participate or show up.
There will be instances in group work wherein the distribution of workload will be obviously uneven. It’s very common to have a problem with students who don’t participate or contribute during the group project. Some students may not decide to show up for meetings or not complete their assigned tasks on time or at all. This can be frustrating to others who are trying their best for the group.
This would also mean that since some members are not doing the work they should’ve put in, other members will have to pick it up and this could also result in increased levels of stress and tension in the group, discussions may be less effective, conflicts, and lower group grade.
While conflict is something that can’t be easily avoided in group work, there are ways to handle it well so it will not affect the outcome of the project. However, if it’s not taken care of, conflict can negatively affect the project and the members. The conflict between members can cause students to be more inclined to work alone than with others, increase their stress levels, and affect students’ relationships.
Every student learns at a different pace and in a different way. However, when collaborating on a group assignment, students are expected to accommodate the different learning styles and velocities of their peers. As a result, they can have a harder time grasping things on their own. For instance, a student may require more time than their group mates to comprehend the material. However, they are compelled to learn more quickly since they must collaborate with their group. They will have no choice but to rush, making their learning less effective.
Teachers and tutors must make group work congenial in order to ensure that students gain from it. They can do so by helping facilitate during group discussions. One way to also encourage equal participation is to have students do self-reflections after every group project. Students can reflect on their actions, the lessons they have learned, and their areas for development. This motivates students to accept responsibility for their own errors and growth. Additionally, it aids students in recognizing their strengths and weaknesses.
Aside from self-reflection, teachers can also allow their students to assess their own group mates. Because they could still receive the same grade even if they don’t participate, some students will sometimes follow others’ lead. This will lead to students slacking off and passing everything to their other members. Students can balance their grades according to each other’s involvement by being given the opportunity to evaluate one another. A better mark is awarded to those who participated and contributed the most, and a lesser grade is given to those who did not.
For students, working in groups may be an anxious but rewarding experience. However, due to the pressures and conflicts that students encounter, group work can occasionally impede their development. Because of this, it’s critical to facilitate group work and provide students with more autonomy when working in groups.
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