Grouping Students IV: Pros and Cons of Groupwork

Group work is another approach for having students complete assignments and task. A group is often characterized as anywhere from 3-8 students with most groups being in the 3-5 member range. As with other approaches to grouping, this one also has pros and cons. This post will explore the good and the bad of having students work together in groups

Pros

Here are some common advantages to group work.

  • Encourages collaboration and cooperation
  • Opportunity for decision-making
  • Opportunities for role-differentiation

Groups encourage students to work together and collaborate in order to achieve something. As they work together, the students are developing communication and cooperation skills. The students also are being given a chance to work on their overall social skills as well.

In groups, students need to make decisions about various matters in order to coordinate the completion of the task. This involves critical thinking as well as negotiating skills.  Students need to maneuver this process in order to develop a plan for action.

Another benefit of groups is the opportunity to assigned roles. Preferably, every group experience calls on people to work on a team in which their strengths can be utilized. This is not always the case but in reality, people often work on teams according to their strengths. As such, groups that allow people to focus on tasks that take advantage of their talents is beneficial.

Cons

Some problems with group work include the following.

  • Organizational time
  • Risk of chaos
  • Student’s preference to work alone

Groups take more time to setup and get going. Students often have to move around and begin planning and discussing. Each group needs a little personal attention to get them focused and on the right track. After this, there is still lingering confusion over what to do even when the best teachers explain the assignment.

In a related point, group work brings chaos. Students are talking, in and out of their seat, and working on something that involves several people. This is in contrast to students sitting quietly in rows working on something. As such, many teachers are not comfortable with students working in groups. There is nothing wrong with not enjoying having kids in groups. However, a little bit of group work is an experience students need to become more versatile.

Just as some teachers do not like group work so do many students disagree with it. Many prefer to work alone, are shy, or do not like the noise. As such, the proper prescription is a little bit of group work without over doing it.

Conclusion

Group work is part of living in this day and age. Everybody needs to do it at least some of the time. It is important that teachers and students understanding the purpose and goals of group work before the process begins. This will help in reducing the impact of the cons of group work.

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