Student Interaction And Learning In Small Groups PdfBy Basa O. In and pdf 04.12.2020 at 22:37 4 min read
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But what can instructors do to help their students succeed? This teaching element is for instructors who hope to incorporate significant small-group work in their courses. For your convenience, this Teaching Element is also available as a downloadable pdf.
Small group learning
But what can instructors do to help their students succeed? This teaching element is for instructors who hope to incorporate significant small-group work in their courses. For your convenience, this Teaching Element is also available as a downloadable pdf. It seems straightforward enough, but make sure that your group project or other group activities align with course goals and student learning outcomes.
If group work makes sense for your course, be clear with students about why you are assigning group work and how that work is important to the course. Kate M. Which groups were successful and why? How could you help students to avoid those pitfalls? Carefully think through whether a group project makes sense for your online course, or whether interaction among students might best be encouraged through some other means, such as discussion.
If you do choose to assign a group online project, make sure to consider how you will step students through the tasks and what tools whether checklists or forms or tools in MyCourses you will employ to facilitate their work.
Assigning group work is a balancing act. How do you provide the necessary structure for the task and for the student groups, but still allow students to take charge of this learning experience? Consider these suggestions, drawn from research by Barkley, et al.
If you are working to structure the task for an online class, ensure that work for all stages of the project takes place in a centrally accessible location—the wiki, the MyCourses discussion board, etc. Also make sure that all communication in the group takes place in a way that can be recorded, such as in Zoom. These recordings provide accountability and can help group members track participation and more readily self-assess and perhaps diagnose and address problems with group dynamics.
You can also use these recordings to more accurately assess individual participation. For more information on tools that you can use with small groups in both online and face-to-face modes, see the following Teaching Elements available from Teaching and Learning Services: Web Conferencing , Online Discussions , and Wikis.
If you plan to have student groups meet outside of class or synchronously online , make student availability a primary criterion for group formation. You may wish to use Doodle or some other tool to gauge availability. Otherwise, research by Oakley et al.
When groups write down expectations, form policies, and draft formal process documents, they are more likely to be successful. See also the sample group work policies and the questionnaires in Oakley. See also the Conflicts? Researchers consistently recommend that student groups be provided with a list of group roles. All roles should incorporate leadership responsibilities and all roles should contribute well-defined content to the group project.
These roles can rotate, depending on the length of time that the group stays together. Whether online or face-to-face, provide students doing group work with frequent opportunities to check understanding of a topic and get feedback from fellow group members and from the instructor. These frequent deadlines can also help keep group work on track.
After students have set expectations for how the group will work together, they should have an opportunity early on to self-assess their process and discuss how their expectations are being met. To facilitate this process, you may want to assign a brief project to allow groups to test out their policies and roles, and have the provide feedback to other group members using a survey.
Before the semester begins, determine how you will assess group work. How much weight will you give to individual contributions to the group project and how much weight to the group project overall? In calculating the total grade, how will you factor in the peer evaluations of group process and product?
For suggestions on how to evaluate individual and group efforts, both the Oakley article and the Eberly Center group work website have suggestions, including forms and rubrics. Barkley, E. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Crutchfield, T. Assessing the dimension and outcomes of an effective teammate. Journal of Education for Business, 89 6 , Maryellen Weimer writes about the Crutchfield article in her blog Faculty Focus.
Oakley, B. Turning Student Groups into Effective Teams. Journal of Student Centered Learning , 2 1 , Click on the Content tab, then scroll down to Group Activities in Learning Activities to find group work materials. Using Group Projects Effectively. Martin, K. Michaelson, L. Petersen, C. Helping Student Teams Perform Well. Search this site.
Faculty Course Technology Support. Get Help Right Now! Why am I assigning group work? How should I structure the learning task?
How should groups be formed? What should students do to prepare for group work? How can I help keep group work on track? How do I grade group work? Where can I learn more? What do I think students will get out of group learning that they cannot achieve by working individually? What kinds of group interaction skills and knowledge will be necessary for graduates when they enter the job market? Do they know this? What do students need to reflect on regarding their own abilities and experiences with group learning?
And how do we help them act on this reflection? And how do we help them act on this information? How can I structure early group interactions to set a tone that ensures balanced participation and establishes the importance of everyone having a voice once the actual work begins?
The task must be relevant to course goals and learning outcomes. Students must understand course concepts to complete the task. Otherwise, the project will seem like busywork and neither the instructor nor students will have any idea how well the concepts are understood. The task must require the groups to produce a tangible output.
Otherwise, neither the instructor nor the students will have any idea about whether or not students have developed the ability to use the concepts effectively. Successful completion of the task should require student interdependence. While the task should require interdependence, students should be held accountable for individual work. Consider how you can use individual assignments as a part of the larger group project.
See more about this in the sections on keeping group work on track and on grading group projects. The task, and perhaps some class time, should be structured so that groups spend the majority of their time engaged in the kinds of activities that groups do well e.
Research recommendations vary. Some recommend three, four, or five students in each group. Barkley, et al, in Collaborative Learning Techniques report that while Bean recommends groups of five because four members split off into two pairs and three split into a pair and an outsider , another researcher, Smith, recommends that for longer term groups, having three members is ideal for ease of scheduling meetings and maximizing involvement. Instructors should create the groups.
Oakley, et al, found that while the students preferred to choose their own groups, students also admit that their worst group experiences were in those groups formed by students. Oakley and her colleagues also find that in their own classes, cheating is reduced in instructor-selected groups.
Books Barkley, E. Articles Crutchfield, T.
Active and Collaborative Learning
Without social interaction, our students lose both the cognitive benefits of sharing ideas with the peers as well as the socio-emotional benefits of being in a learning community. Reflecting on my own experience as a student and even now , some of my most memorable moments of insight came from vicarious learning opportunities or learning through observation, rather than direct, hands-on, instruction. This post will provide a brief introduction to a variety of tools and strategies that can help you foster student interaction in an online environment. While there are tools e. Zoom that can allow you to meet and talk live, here are a few asynchronous, low-bandwidth suggestions. To organize the information, I broke these techniques down using three categories: Discussions, Collaborative Assignments, and Public Work. For each of these categories I will introduce three tools as well as three ways to use them to foster student engagement.
Fostering Student Interactions
Think about the way you prefer to learn. Do you like to bounce ideas off other people and engage in conversation and debate, or do you prefer to learn by yourself and seek help only when needed? Our students need to be engaged in learning in a variety of ways, but collaborative learning has been identified as a necessary skill for success in the 21st century and also an essential component of deep learning. Cooperative learning involves students working together to accomplish shared goals, and it is this sense of interdependence that motivate group members to help and support each other.
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Most of the communication skills discussed in this book are directed toward dyadic communication, meaning that they are applied in two-person interactions. While many of these skills can be transferred to and used in small group contexts, the more complex nature of group interaction necessitates some adaptation and some additional skills. Small group communication refers to interactions among three or more people who are connected through a common purpose, mutual influence, and a shared identity.
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