According to Barbara Gross Davis, author of Tools for Teaching,
“Students learn best when they are actively involved in the process.
Researchers report that, regardless of the subject matter, students working in small groups tend to learn more of what is taught and retain it longer than when the same content is presented in other instructional formats. Students who work in collaborative groups also appear more satisfied with their classes.”
I think this makes a lot of sense, however, ensuring everyone is equally involved, engaged and operating with the same goals and beliefs about group work is a different kettle of fish. there are potentially a lot of underlying ideas as to what participation means, what interaction means and what goal achievement actually involves – and these underlying ideas can differ widely from person to person. Even more challenging is that many beliefs are unconscious, so the believers don’t even know themselves what it is that has made them behave in a particular way during a group task.
So, here’s some ideas to help the process and uncover those ideas of just what good group work involves.
- Create agreed upon ‘rules’ for group work
- Train your students to express reasoning and degrees of certainty
- Raise awareness of underlying beliefs that drive behaviours and patterns of listening and speaking
- Warm students up to their task: engage, lead in, brainstorm and build students’ energy and enthusiasm for the group work
- Have a clear goal and ensure all students understand the goal(s).Provide feedback specifically on group participation
- Be aware of timing and pacing
- Monitor to keep all groups on track
These tips came from our teaching and training experiences as well as from an excellent article in Humanizing Language Teaching Magazine, by Jessica Watson – Talking Together: Working Towards Better Group Work
Free downloadable pdf discussion worksheet ‘Talking points about group talk’ discussion worksheet.
Posted by Tania