Collaboration is an important part of learning, helping learners build their interpersonal, emotional, and social skills. We also know that learners don’t simply consume facts like a vacuum, they require social learning to help them gain a more meaningful understanding of the content.
However, group work can become a messy exercise, and doesn’t always work out as we would like. Sometimes in a group environment we find that one learner is doing most of the work, or someone feels left out, and motivation declines dramatically.
But the fact is that collaborative group work is supposed to be tough. It is about getting your learners to work through the complexity!
Masterskill has put together a few tips to help you set up successful group work for your learners.
4 Practical tips to set up effective group work:
- Ensure the lesson is suited to group work. Always consider whether or not the assignments need to involve group work. Ask yourself if the tasks can be broken down into equitable parts, and decide what you want learners to learn, and if this outcome is suited to group collaboration.
If the work doesn’t break down well, consider a different strategy.
- Break down the work for your learners. Successful group work takes a lot of building. Your students won’t know how to spread the work up on their own and will easily become overwhelmed by the workload. By dividing the work into smaller components ahead of time, you allow your students to flourish.
Make sure the distribution of the work tells each student what their roles and responsibilities are. Make this very clear, and make sure that the tasks assigned require learners to work together, and independently.
- Help learners understand their responsibilities and roles. Traditional collaborative work such as note taker or timekeeper, are administrative. This kind of role is well-intentioned, but doesn’t really serve our learning goals, and falls short of true collaborative learning. So, why not structure roles differently?
When students share ownership of what it is they are learning, they should all have a variety of roles.
- Get Digital. Investing in a digital tool (Learner Management System designed for group work), your learners can connect with each other easily. By investing in a digital learning tool, your learners can add texts, videos and images at any time to the project!
You can monitor their interaction via this kind of tool as well. Another benefit is that by organising your group work visually through a digital tool, your learners develop valuable presentation skills while working creatively as part of a team.