Does Group Based Learning Improve Student Learning?

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“Student collaboration is a very important part of every classroom when it is done effectively”, said Anna Tenero , an early childhood teacher.

Studies say that students who work in groups have a greater tendency to learn things effectively than students who work alone. It’s because group based learning not just provides students with what they want to learn but also what they need to learn.

Skills that involve cooperation with the group, understanding the other’s views and responsibility to contribute towards collaborative work are essential for any student. But there are still some arguments going on that Group based learning involves much time in decision making, conflicts between teammates while discussing a solution, segregation of individuals, etc. To avoid these confusions, I’ve done some research to know what educators think about group learning. Let’s see whether or not a group based learning improves learning.

“Depending on how it is implemented, group based learning can be an effective tool”, said Cassandra H. Wilson, an English professor.

Most of the educators consider group learning as an effective tool to improve student learning and collaboration skills. And of course, there are some educators who move against having students work together on projects or on assignments. However, the challenges many educators face are about how to group students.

“Challenges in the classroom are about juggling needs. My hardest challenge is Math. Group learning helps but the needs are so diverse”, said Jane Ross , a grade 4 teacher, Indonesia.

The following approaches let you know about how effectively educators implement group based learning to make it beneficial.

Grouping Students with Similar Interests:

Educators can easily identify students who share common interests in their classroom. Grouping or pairing such students to work for a project brings effective work as well as joy in their learning. It drives students to help each other by peer assessment as they have common interests.

Grouping Students to improve a particular skill:

If you find that a number of students lack a particular skill and you want to improve it in them, do group those students and assign them work that uses the skill. While working in a group, they’ll learn from others and improve themselves automatically. As we know, a project or an assignment involves different skills like presentation, creativity, time management, etc., it can also be possible for educators to improve different skills of students by grouping them together.

In addition to the above mentioned approaches, there are many more approaches educators can group students through. We’d like to hear from you a few more effective approaches of grouping students to benefit from group based learning.

Benefits of Group based learning over Individual learning:

Group learning digs deeper into advanced learning levels:

A group of people can discuss among others, do individual research on different topics and then exchange their knowledge. While sharing what they’ve learnt, they’ll be exposed to diverse questions and learn through collaboration. Resources available are more in a group, so, it’s easy to learn in a group rather than individually.

“In terms of real-life application, deeper learning, and promoting critical thinking skills, project based learning is great. I also find that student engagement and enjoyment is much higher. I loved doing mock elections, writing legislation, research papers, stock portfolios, business plans, etc. However, I do take issue with classrooms that ONLY use project based learning--it does not adequately prepare students for college. In a university setting, students will need to learn to learn from lecture and discussion. So, for good outcomes in high school it is best to use a combination of project based learning as well as more traditional styles”, said Elana F, an administrator and history teacher.

Learning by utilizing online resources also belongs to group learning category. Educators can utilize online platforms such as Twitter, Blogs, Skype to implement group based learning where students can interact with each other even if they aren’t in class. It helps them clarify their doubts whenever they get stuck with concepts. The above are the strategies to express that Group based learning helps educators improve student learning.

Jane Ross’s group learning approach:

There are many challenges that educators are facing nowadays in improving their classroom learning. Especially subjects like Mathematics need more engagement of students in order to improve their learning. Jane Ross, a grade 4 teacher in Indonesia, has shared her practices of teaching Math to her 9 year old students. She divides 1 hour of her class into 3 parts: in the first 20 minutes she teaches her class a concept, divides the class into groups (ability grouped), the next 20 minutes is for group gaming and the remaining time is for independent practice. She believes that students need explicit teaching as much as groups to further practice new skills.

We hope this information is useful for you to know about how group learning benefits educators as well as students to achieve learning standards. We’d like to have your views and practices as well. Please share with us your ways of grouping students and usage as well as benefits of group learning in your classroom. The comment box awaits you.

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About the Author
Author: Santosh Bhaskar KWebsite: http://www.twitter.com/SantoshBhaskarK
Devotee of Dr. Abdul Kalam. Following his path of Creating Creative Education in India. Contributing my works in "India Vision 2020". Former EdTech Blogger/Researcher at ETR India

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