Group work

Aug. 8th, 2017 03:18 pm
liv: Cartoon of a smiling woman with a long plait, teaching about p53 (teacher)
[personal profile] liv
I'm on a mission to redeem group work in education. I expect this to be controversial among many of my friends. So if I'm right and lots of you have terrible memories / experiences of being made to do bad group work, I invite you to comment here and tell me what was bad about it. Do you think it's just awful, or are there problems that might be fixed? I believe strongly that while it can be dire, it can also be great, or perhaps I might phrase it as, there are things that look like group work superficially but are actually great.

Because I'm on a mission this may turn into a more formal research survey at some point, but in that case I'll pose the question in a formal context with ethics and everything. Right now I'm just trying to gather some opinions and not just rely on my own ideas. Plus I am eye-deep in paperwork and I could do with some distraction, so do rant away.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-08-08 04:00 pm (UTC)
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kaberett
My problem was being told that the purpose of groupwork was something other than what it was. "You have to produce this project" was infuriating when That Was What I'd Be Judged On and It Had To Be Good Enough Or Consequences and I was the only person doing work; being told that it was actually about skill development and management and so on, more usefully, rather than "you'll be judged on the finished product", would... have helped me [as an autistic abused child] Rather A Lot. I mean I'd still have hated it because I'd still have been being put in groups with people who bullied me and there was no safe way for me to say I wasn't okay with this and I was terrified of what would happen if the project wasn't "good enough" and entirely willing to believe people would sabotage it to get me into trouble, but...

(no subject)

Date: 2017-08-08 04:12 pm (UTC)
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kaberett
Actually, side note to the abused-autistic-child thing -- it wasn't even necessarily or always that I was the one doing all of the work, it was still absolutely panic-inducing to be in a situation where I had to rely on other people, because other people weren't reliable. Doing well academically was Required; group work took away enough of my control of the situation to be terrifying.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-08-08 04:30 pm (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
Higher risks for one team member than the others, essentially, which is a definite problem (c.f. Gurwara's experiment in SFP - Kab will get the reference, but people who don't read SFP won't have a clue what I'm talking about).
Edited Date: 2017-08-08 04:42 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-08-08 06:15 pm (UTC)
jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jenett
Related to my comments about the class where this really worked for me - I think that having it be a good reason for the group work is key.

In that class, most (at least half, maybe more like 3/4) were things that would legitimately be a group discussion and presentation in a number of library settings. F'ex:

- You have X budget to spend on Y topic of books for a library of Z size/population specifics. How do you spend that and why?

- A book in your collection has been challenged. You and your colleagues need to explain what you're doing about that, in keeping with your library's policies.

- You and several other librarians are making a presentation to the library board about what Y budget would allow you to do to increase diverse resources for the collection (and why that matters.)

In small libraries, you might not have colleagues to do these things with - but they're all pretty reasonable tasks that people do on occasion or might need to deal with, where doing them for the first time for real is even more scary (and has significant consequences if you mess up.)

I'd also argue that sometimes it's possible to learn a lot not just from working with your group, but watching how other groups tackle the same basic question (which was also true in this class: in most cases we had the same basic assignment).

Watching 6 iterations of the same thing, with people sometimes taking very different approaches, was really educational, and in a bunch of cases made future professional discussions a lot easier for me, because I'd seen examples and had been able to ask questions about "Why'd you go at it this way?" that wouldn't fit in a professional discussion as easily.

It obviously doesn't apply in every field or every topic in a given field - but when it does, I think the 'try it out in a lower-stakes setting' is handy.)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-08-09 01:34 am (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
Like, lots of people are terrified (often justifiably) of the consequences of poor performance, but don't in fact have the ability to get perfect marks all the time by working on their own with no input from others. So they're not better off if forced to work individually.

Welp, you just absolutely slammed one of my buttons: you have to be abused by this educational process for the good of other people.

You have two people, one of whom, A, will get bad marks regardless, and one of whom, B, reasonably believes they will get bad marks if in a group and good marks alone. Also, B will be beaten by their parent if they bring bad marks home.

And you just said, "Well, it's not actually safer to do individual work, because look at A's case."

(no subject)

Date: 2017-08-09 09:13 pm (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
I am acquainted with a college student who feels in danger of their life if they don't know how to do an assignment.

The history: an egregiously emotionally abusive and physically neglectful home of origin, knowing that another 4+ years of emotional abuse would kill them, realizing that they would have to have college funding that didn't depend on parental cooperation (because of course "I am paying for college" and/or "I am cooperating with loan paperwork" could be used as a lever for abuse), and getting an appropriate scholarship depended on stellar grades. (College is now taken care of independent of the parents, but the student has not fully recovered from that level of abuse overnight.)


Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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