CL1 - More Information: Groups





In the collegiate world, groups provide support, an academic framework to learn, a conduit for encouragement, and in many ways, a buffer that can prevent academic failure. Outside the academic world, groups provide a social structure to enhance life, celebrate triumphs, and assist with tragedies. They help provide a religious context and in general, create a sense of community.

Successful collaborative learning requires effective and appropriate implementation of student groups. Depending on the purpose and longevity of the group, the instructor needs to consider the size and composition of the group and the amount of direction or guidance given. Coupled with these items that the instructor can control, are the many personal issues and "baggage" that come with the students that the instructor can not control but may be able to mitigate. How do the students feel about working in groups? Are they looking forward to this experience or are they resistant to this style of learning? Even if students generally likes the idea of working with each other, they may have previously had bad group experiences that lay the foundation for resistance. As one student wrote,

    "Often when I hear that we have to work in groups I get very uneasy. I do not always like to meet new people." (chemistry student)
The next few sections will address some of these group organizational and dynamic issues.

A particularly helpful book on group issues is Active learning: Cooperation in the college classroom. by David Johnson, Roger Johnson, and Karl Smith (Edina, MN: Interaction Book Company, 1998). For other books and articles, see the Annotated Bilibiography.

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