CL1 - More Information: Why groups fail?




Why groups fail?

An article by Susan Fiechtner and Elaine Davis, "Why Some Groups Fail: A Survey of Students' Experiences with Learning Groups" sheds light on how to assist in making the group experience for students a success. These researchers surveyed several upper-division speech communication and business classes, and from the response of 155 students, generalized some group structures and assignments that may create a more positive experience for students.

Forming groups

  • Students have a better experience with groups established by instructors and not students.
  • Though not causing a significant difference in student experiences, groups of four to seven students were preferred.
  • Allow groups to become cohesive - do not continually dissolve groups.

Assignments and activities

  • Assign one or no class presentations.
  • Assign one to three group written assignments.
  • Have five or more group exams.
  • Provide for more than the minimum amount of in-class time for group work.

Grading policies

  • Group work should count for more than 20% of the total grade.
  • Include peer evaluations worth 21% to 41% in the course grade.


  • Make sure students can not simply divvy up an assignment and have each group member do their own individual part of the assignment.
  • Have large group projects due before the end of the semester and provide continual feedback.

Fiechtner, S. B., and Davis, E. A. (1992). "Why some groups fail: A survey of students' experiences with learning groups". In Goodsell, A. S., Maher, M. R., and Tinto, V. (Eds.), Collaborative Learning: A Sourcebook for Higher Education. National Center on Postsecondary Teaching, Learning, & Assessment, Syracuse University.

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