group work July 17

Cooperative Learning Structures and Deep Learning

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Cooperative learning structures such as jigsaw and think-pair-share are widely used in college classrooms. The two most basic tenets of cooperative learning involve positive interdependence and individual accountability. “Positive interdependence means that group members perceive that the collective effort of the group is essential in order for the individual learners to achieve their goals.” (p. 176) And individual accountability establishes that students are assessed individually on their achievement of the learning goals.


Thinkstock-student-group-collaboration February 26

Use Team Charters to Improve Group Assignments

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Many faculty now have students work in teams to complete course-long projects that are designed to accomplish multiple course objectives and that count for a significant part of the course grade. These groups do not always function well, which concerns faculty. If experiences in groups do not develop good teamwork skills, then maybe it’s better not to use groups and have students do assignments individually. Frequently that’s what they prefer anyway.


iStock_teacher-group-at-computer230p February 13, 2014

Peer Learning: An Update

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Research on the effectiveness of Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) continues to accumulate. In part, the findings are impressive because the method is highly prescribed, which means it’s being used similarly at a variety of institutions, with different student cohorts and in a range of fields, although most of the research on the method has been done in chemistry.



three students230 April 5, 2013

What Group Dynamics Can Teach Us about Classroom Learning

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I am unabashedly proud of my pedagogical article resource file. I’ve been collecting good articles on teaching and learning since the early ’80s. I use the file almost every day, and in the process of looking for a particular article, I regularly stumble onto others whose contents I remember when I see them but have otherwise forgotten.


ff-tp-blog March 20, 2013

Five Things Students Can Learn through Group Work

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I often get questions about group work. Recently, the question was phrased like this: “Can students learn anything in groups?” And, like faculty sometimes do, this questioner proceeded with the answer. “I don’t think my students can. When they work in groups they have no interest in doing quality work. Whatever the first person says, they all agree with that and relax into a social conversation.”





ff-icon-default-200x200 May 26, 2009

Dealing with Students Who Hate Working in Groups

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Some students tell us they hate groups—as in really hate groups. Why do faculty love groups so much, they ask. I work hard, I’m smart, I can get good grades by myself, these students insist. Other students are a waste. I end up doing all the work and they get the good grade I earned for the group. Why do you, Professor Byrnes, make me work in a group. I hate groups!