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: 2017-08-09 02:42 am (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] slashmarks
For the sake of clarity, it's not that I think bullying is inevitable in every group of teenagers; it's that I think it's inevitable in *some,* because teenagers are people like everyone else, and there's no actual way of identifying those groups or fixing the problem within an institutional context. (It's related to the problems with high rates of abuse and assault in institutions used to house disabled people and prisons.) The problem is with "high school," not "teenagers."

In more naturalistic environments, people handle bullying and cruel behavior by changing social groups or avoiding the perpetrators, which is impossible in settings with strict control of movement. Both perpetrators and victims are aware of this, and it encourages the perpetrators to manipulate the movement control. So any given problem behavior becomes a lot worse.

So I don't think that avoiding all social situations where bullying might occur is necessary - but I do think that limiting social interactions where people can't opt out or walk away is. By definition mandatory group work is one of those, because even if you get to choose your group, you can't generally leave it after everyone else's are formed. If members have the option of dropping the group and working by themselves, that's less true; you're still penalized for having to start over mid-project but it's not impossible.

ETA: This is less of a problem with college because every part of college is less coerced than high school. People choose to go in the first place; they can generally withdraw or drop a class into late into the semester (at least here, I have no idea how this works in the UK); and the consequences for skipping class are at worst failing and at best minimal. It's not good if students have to withdraw from a class they need mid-semester because of bullying, and it can screw with financial aid, but ultimately it's an option. This is very different from the vivid awareness that if you stop going to class the cops are going to be called that kept me going to school as a teenager.
Edited Date: 2017-08-09 02:49 am (UTC)

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