Work in a group is one of the best and most effective ways to help your students learn both the subject and communication, cooperation and other useful skills for their future. Group work is also found to be beneficial for student’s motivation and emotions related to the learning material – in the end, everyone likes doing something when it’s more fun, right?
However, in reality, most students actually say that they do not like to work in a group. But the problem is not the group work itself, more the way we do it nowadays. So, what can we do to get our students to work in groups more effectively, as well as enjoy it more?
Before we get into that, let’s go through some of the benefits of working in group.
Why Working in Group Is Great for Your Students
One of the main challenges in a workplace, as well as one of the main reasons people get fired from their job is getting along with colleagues. This is just one of many things group work can help your students with:
– Learning to communicate and cooperate better
– Learning to give and receive feedback
– Learning to manage time and resources
– Learning to share diverse perspectives and challenge different assumptions
– Learning to hold their peers accountable, as well as be held accountable themselves
– Learning to negotiate, plan and followup
How to Get Students to Work Together Better
Now that we’ve covered why the group work is so important, let’s get onto the tips and tricks to make it more interesting and enjoyable for your students.
#1 Structure Is Important
You should plan how you want to organize the groups. Will it be in pairs, by three, four or some other organisation? Remember that in real life, students will have to work with people who are not always their best friends or who with whom they do not “click” so well, so it may be a good idea not to switch group members too often as soon as someone complains. But remember also that they will have to work with diverse people, so you should make sure it’s not always the same students in the group.
How will you choose members? Will your students be able to pick their groups themselves? Will it be based on affinities and skills? Will they be randomly picked? The choice is yours.
#2 Simple Roles and Responsibilities + Rules for Work in Group
Each group will need different members with certain roles like timekeeper, facilitator, recorder, reporter… This depends on the project and your plan, but in almost every case, a group will need someone to be a facilitator, as well as someone to keep a track overwork and comments.
Basic rules are really important in order to facilitate a good environment for everyone within different groups, as well as to learn students to follow the rules and work well together. For instance, no name-calling, we discuss arguments not the people, we do not interrupt each other and everyone gets a chance to say their opinion etc.
#3 Use All the Tools That Help Students Collaborate Better
You should give your students a chance to work with different tools and resources that can help them achieve better results and cooperate better.
This can be everything from colors, paper to software. For instance, CollaboraZon is a great tool that lets them share files, arrange events, give feedback and more in real time, using very intuitive and user-friendly design! That’s why both teachers and students love to use it.