Interaction between people has always been of great importance in task-oriented work. Apparently, the gist of grouping lies in sharing opinions, distributing activities among the members of a certain group, and mutual help. Therefore, students who infrequently participate in group work are highly likely to learn the patterns of effective communication and acquire a high level of soft skills. This paper aims to reveal arguments for group learning as a means of gaining academic success.
Admittedly, group work has its principles that define its positive and negative sides that will be discussed further on. According to recent research, “collaborative learning (CL) takes place when students work together toward a common goal, improving their skills” (Molinillo et al., 2018, p.47). This means that students usually work together to get their mutual results. Having a common goal, they are bound to unite, which is important for motivation. Indeed, motivation is generally recognized as a sufficient part of successful work. In addition, team tests seem to influence people’s responsibility because they never want to let their groupmates down (Burgess et al., 2018, p. 76). It appears to be natural that students who often have to work in small groups get used to being responsible as far as their studies are concerned.
Moreover, it may be useful to ask for peers’ evaluations in order to improve one’s own work. Kooloos (2011) claims that “students prefer to work on a smaller part of the assignment and to receive solutions of the remaining parts by peer-teaching” (p. 984). The so-called peer-teaching serves as a great advantage of group work that lets people learn not only from their teacher but also teach something one another. If one has mastered the particular material quicker than their groupmates, they will share the main ideas with them in simple words (Barkley and Claire, 2020, p. 432). Probably, people belonging to the same generation are likely to have a better understanding than they do with those who are a little older because of their common background.
Another idea concerns the digital character of modern education. It turns out that “electronic devices create an opportunity for collaborative learning and allow the students to share the resource materials to their colleagues” (Ansari and Khan, 2020, p. 2). Therefore, the modern generation of digital natives is prone to group work. Indeed, they may like it more than individual tasks because they have an inborn desire to share information at high speed. It seems to be wise to disperse the workload and cover large areas of content efficiently (Channon et al., p. 187, 2017). Students who usually work in a group may even be interested in performing additional academic tasks by writing articles and performing together.
Nevertheless, group work cannot be considered a flawless learning mode. The main problem is that a perfect group is utterly complicated to form. Carolyn et al. (2015) claim that students should be equal in knowledge and skills in balanced groups (p. 125). However, this is rather wishful thinking as all students are different. No efficient teacher is expected to estimate their students by comparing and contrasting them like that. Furthermore, there can be heterogeneous groups where excellent students and underachievers show a high degree of collaboration (Zheng et al., 2018, 221). It seems that patterns of designing efficient groups need to be elaborated.
To conclude, group work has many advantages, namely, a greater degree of motivation and responsibility, sharing tasks, a high speed of work, the habit of academic collaboration, and efficient communication. Still, a teacher needs much experience to be ready to divide their students into groups. Without successful division, there can be no fruitful work. This can be a disadvantage that crosses out all the positive aspects of collaborative work. However, many researchers are interested in this topic and ready to find out ways of composing optimal collaborative learning groups.
Ansari, J.A.N. and Khan, N.A. (2020). Exploring the role of social media in collaborative learning the new domain of learning. Smart Learning Environment, 7, pp. 1-9.
Barkley, F. B. and Claire, H.M. (2020). Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty. John Wiley & Sons.
Burgess, A., et al. (2018). Implementation of modified team-based learning within a problem based learning medical curriculum: a focus group study. BMC Medical Education, 18, pp.74-100.
Carolyn, J. L., et al. (2015). Successful student group projects: Perspectives and strategies. Teaching and learning in nursing, 10(4), pp. 120-158.
Channon, S.B., et al. (2017). What makes a good group: Exploring the characteristics and performance of undergraduate student groups. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 22, pp. 186-191.
Kooloos, J. G. M., et al. (2011). Collaborative group work: Effects of group size and assignment structure on learning gain, student satisfaction and perceived participation. Medical Teacher, 33(12), pp. 983-988.
Molinillo, S., et al. (2018). Exploring the impacts of interactions, social presence and emotional engagement on active collaborative learning in a social web-based environment. Computers & Education, 123, pp. 41-52.
Zheng, Y., et al. (2018). An improved genetic approach for composing optimal collaborative learning groups. Knowledge-Based Systems, 139, pp. 214-225.