Monday, 16 November 2015

Summary of discussion forum: Group Work for PIDP 3250

Forum Analytics:

*      65  Total postings  (from my original threads)


*      5 Discussion threads and one introduction thread


1.       Pros and cons of 'Group work'

§  21 posts

2.       Types of Group work and the +/ - of each

§  11 posts

3.       Group contracts: a necessary evil?

§  18 posts

4.       How to monitor the effectiveness of 'Group work'

§  7 posts

5. Bits and bobs on Group work

§  6 posts


Key Ideas:

The definition of group work, and the pros and cons were well defined. There was some discussion on the definitions of group work vs collaboration, which most people were fans of the latter. There was a lot of discussion about the pros and cons, unfortunately, the cons outnumbered the pros this time.

Joanna wrote: “Pro: 

- Less time consuming grading for the instructor

- Students tackle a big project, similar to how they might in the workplace 

- Social aspect 

- Learn collaboration and teamwork 

- Learn from new skills, perspectives, work experiences

- Time management skills

- For some, I see leadership skills develop



- Conflict can occur

- Instructors in my experience either devote too much class time or not enough, which means that students are spending a lot of outside time trying to coordinate project

- One or more students may take the bulk of the project while another does very little

- Can be a challenge for the instructor to manage the conflicts and grade appropriately


Andreas added: “To the pros I would add that: 

-Students have the opportunity to learn from and support each other

-Some weaker students may be forced to up their game

-Students gain real perspective where their strengths and weaknesses lie compared to other students


To the cons I would add: 

-A bad apple may pull the whole group down

-Introverts are overpowered and may not be able to contribute as much as more assertive people(See Journal 2)


The question to even evaluate group work was introduced by Doug and there were differing opinions on this, people were mostly unsure what to do about the proposed question, but definitely one that got people thinking.

The common feelings surrounding group work are mostly negative due to unfair workloads. While most recognize the need for group work and that people must learn to work together, most people have had very negative experiences in the past and do not look forward to group work in general.


Promoting positive group dynamics was also revisited as this is a concept familiar to many. Ice breakers, games and fun activities were seen as examples of promoting positivity.

For monitoring of group effectiveness, the idea of peer evaluations was recommended which included an individual mark and a group mark. Concerns with giving a peer a low score and the ramifications of this was also introduced which was thought might bring on hurt feelings and thus negative future group work.

Confirmation bias was introduced as a side note and Gloria and I both became very excited with this find! ‘Searching out literature to support our beliefs’…...definitely something I want to go and research more of. Perhaps I will find more confirmation bias about my confirmation bias research!

Lisa-Marie wrote: “One way to ensure the marking is fairly distributed would be too have the learners journal their own participation and experience throughout the project and to self-assess both their own contributions and their efforts to act as a contributing group member. If the expectation is there from the beginning of the project or activity,  individuals will be more conscious of and aware of what their responsibilities are.” (Nov, 12, 10:48pm).

An interesting suggestion which I am curious to try and which now leads me to my next key point, the group contract. I thought the pros and cons would have generated the most interest, but it turned out it was the group contract. Much interest resulted and many are eager to implement this in a future project. Many felt this is most likely the only way to implement group work that will be fair and produce the positive results that everyone goes in hoping for. Doug asked about teamwork contracts and the internet had many resources available supporting the use of and I believe I was objective in my research. The research also provided templates for teams to consider.

Susan Cain felt that we needed to “stop the madness for constant group work”!!! (Ted Talk).

Articles & videos:

"Team Concept Maps" students digital assignment link.

The two articles below list the pros and cons of group work.



An interesting read about social contracts and team contracts








Barkley, E.F. (2010). Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San  

         Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Brookfield, S. (1987). Developing critical thinkers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Brookfield, S. D. (2006). The Skillful Teacher: On technique, trust and responsiveness in the

classroom (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Merriam, S. B. (2007). Learning in Adulthood: A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE. San Francisco:


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