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: 2017-08-27 03:24 pm (UTC)
fred_mouse: cross stitched image reading "do not feed the data scientists" (Default)
From: [personal profile] fred_mouse
[linked here by lilysea to read what is being said; can't resist butting in]

On the sharing equipment: Chemistry (and possibly physics, but I'm hazier on that) standard practice for high school (Australia, late 1980s) was that the practicals were done in groups but the write-ups were done individually. Listening to my physics-lecturer friend talk, it sounds like the local uni has that practice for physics. Beyond that, I can't point to any group work until 3rd year uni math, where the person I worked with was fabulous, and we did so much more work than we needed to. Across two undergraduate and two post-grad degrees, twenty years, and several disciplines (psychology, education, mathematics, statistics, computing) I don't remember having to do any others. But the engineering students who were in the same math class appeared to have to do multiple group projects, so it was probably a discipline related thing.

For the university class I tutored last term (first year), pretty much everything was group work. And what really worked was that all the submissions were on the same project, everything was done with the same group, and they self-selected the groups (the one that was 'and everyone else' self-destructed most of the way through the term, but there were at least methods for dealing with this, both the lecturer and I were expecting it, and I don't believe it affected the final grade for the hard working student, although the lazy ones presumably didn't get their grade pulled up). Plus, some of the assessments they could chose to submit a single, larger, item, or a smaller, personal one. And by 'self-selecting' it didn't just mean from within the class. One of my groups pulled in two additional members, one who continued to attend their assigned tutorial, and one who transferred in to mine.

There was also a lecture on how to work in groups, readings on how to make group work functional (the students didn't do the reading, but I know to do it and then work with the ideas) and we did a number of in class (a once-weekly 2 hour tutorial) exercises to promote a group bond. The first few weeks, before the assignment groups were selected, I moved the groups around so the students could get an idea of who worked like they did.

And then an amount of the group work was done in class, with me overseeing. I did quite a bit of coaching on appropriate behaviour, including talking to one very excitable individual about ways to make sure that everyone got to talk. The group that didn't cohere had an issue that at no one session did all of the group members turn up, and one missed every second session because they had an assignment due for a different class, and were off doing that. So we knew there were problems, but it is really hard to start to address them if you can't get the student to turn up.

..and I'm sorry, this got longer than I meant it to be. I'm happy to provide any of the materials that I have on the working with groups, if you send me a PM. I also have a *lot* to say on the way that schools mis-handle group work, gender politics, and so-on (I have a teenager suffering through at the moment) if you want me to say more.


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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