Why Does Group Work Suck?

As educators, we know that group work has important and tangible benefits for our students. Seemingly every employer survey out there says students who can work as part of a team are attractive candidates for open jobs. We know that group projects help our students develop important academic skills: learning how to break large projects into their component parts, experience working collaboratively, and practice in effectively communicating, for example. Teaching and Learning research also shows that group work can lead to increased retention of course content, as well as overall academic success in college. Continue reading “Why Does Group Work Suck?”

Seven Principles, part two: Developing Reciprocity and Cooperation.

Group work gets a bad rap in college classrooms. Ask any student who’s done a group project in a course, for example, and they’re likely to give you a litany of reasons that they don’t like group work. The responsible and attentive students often feel like they’re carrying weight for the non-productive members, in addition to their own portions of the work. It’s hard to produce single product–a paper or a presentation, for example–with multiple people involved in the process (as any of us who’ve sat through a meeting where an entire committee tried to draft a policy statement can attest). There’s always the one person who never shows up to anything, then magically reappears at the final presentation, ready to shoehorn in on whatever grade the rest of the group earned. And, finally, the rule of committees often applies to group work, too: “All of us are dumber than one of us.” Continue reading “Seven Principles, part two: Developing Reciprocity and Cooperation.”