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Effective Group Work In The College Classroom

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  1. Effective Group Work In The College Classroom Debra Dunlap Runshe

  2. Webinar Objectives By the end of this webinar, you will be able to • articulate the benefits and barriers to group work. • explore the best uses of group work. • describe effective group facilitation strategies. • identify strategies for handling “slackers”. • develop assessment tools for group work.

  3. What is group work? Cooperative learning is a systematic, active, pedagogical strategy that encourages small groups of students to work together for the achievement of a common goal (Johnson, Johnson, and Smith 1991). Collaborative learning encompasses a broader range of group interactions (Cuseo, 1992; Smith & MacGregor, 1992) such as developing learning communities, stimulating student-faculty discussions, and encouraging electronic exchanges (Bruffee, 1993). (Bianco-Mathis & Chalofsky, 1999, pp. 31-2)

  4. When is group work more? Small group learning is a teaching technique where small groups are used for the purpose of promoting more active and more effective learning through structured activities. Team-based learning is a teaching strategy where a different course structure is created that enables a transformative learning experience. (Michaelsen, Knight, & Fink, 2004, pp. 4-5)

  5. When is group work more? When used properly, team-based learning drives four kinds of transformations: • It transforms “small groups” into “teams.” • It transforms a technique into a strategy. • It transforms the quality of student learning. • For many teachers, it transforms (or restores) the joy of teaching. (Michaelsen, Knight, & Fink, 2004, p. 4)

  6. Benefits to Group Work

  7. Active Learning Strategy “students are simply more likely to internalize, understand, and remember material learned through active engagement in the learning process” -Bonwell & Sutherland, 1996, p. 3. “[when students are allowed to] talk and listen, read, write, and reflect as they approach course content through problem-solving exercises, informal small groups, simulations case studies, role-playing, and other activities-all of which require students to apply what they are learning” -Meyers & Jones, 1993, p. xi (Clement, 2010; Bianco-Mathis & Chalofsky, 1999 )

  8. Why active learning? Research suggests active learning strategies • more frequently engage students. • lead to increased student achievement. • enhance students’ metacognitive skills.

  9. Retention of Information After 24 hours, what percent of information is retained by students in a lecture environment? • 5% • 10% • 20% • 40% • 50% (Sousa, 2001 )

  10. Retention After 24 Hours (Sousa, 2001 )

  11. Benefits to Group Work Student-centered teaching methods are “more conducive to significant learning, and more likely to increase memorization and learning transfer that professor-centered methods.” -Pregent, 1994, 78 Instructional strategies that engage student in the learning process stimulate critical thinking, and a greater awareness of other perspectives -Halpern, 1996 (Bianco-Mathis & Chalofsky, 1999, pp. 26-7)

  12. Benefits to Group Work “Students who are well-versed in the skills of cooperative learning-skills like active listening, effective communication, consensus building, and conflict resolution-are better able to solve challenging problems, formulate clear and cogent opinions, and produce first-rate work. Moreover, as the workforce of the future, students who can understand and work effectively with their peers hold a significant advantage over students whose academic life is marked largely by independent seatwork.” (Silver, Strong, & Perini, 2007, p. 183)

  13. Benefits of Group Work http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5a7hP9doTBg

  14. Barriers to Group Work

  15. Barriers to Group Work • Student resistance to active learning • Unclear expectations • Dominant students • Non-participatory students • Poor interpersonal skills • Poor team process skills

  16. Barriers to Group Work http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUSN8vHRB-A

  17. Best Uses of Group Work

  18. Best Uses of Group Work • Brainstorming • Problem solving • Role-playing • Case studies • Peer teaching (Clement, 2010, p. 91; Bianco-Mathis & Chalofsky, 1999, pp. 32-6)

  19. Best Uses of Group Work • Brainstorming • Problem solving • Role-playing • Case studies • Peer teaching (Clement, 2010, p. 91; Bianco-Mathis & Chalofsky, 1999, pp. 32-6)

  20. Best Uses of Group Work • Brainstorming • Problem solving • Role-playing • Case studies • Peer teaching (Clement, 2010, p. 91; Bianco-Mathis & Chalofsky, 1999, pp. 32-6)

  21. Best Uses of Group Work • Brainstorming • Problem solving • Role-playing • Case studies • Peer teaching (Clement, 2010, p. 91; Bianco-Mathis & Chalofsky, 1999, pp. 32-4)

  22. Best Uses of Group Work • Brainstorming • Problem solving • Role-playing • Case studies • Peer teaching (Clement, 2010, p. 91; Bianco-Mathis & Chalofsky, 1999, pp. 32-6)

  23. Specific Learning Applications • Learning new content • Peer review • Checking homework • Test preparation and review • Presentations and projects • Labs and experiments • Drill and review (Johnson & Johnson, 1999)

  24. Effective Use as Secondary Pedagogy Research suggests that cooperative learning, learning in groups, need not be used all the time to have positive effects on student achievement, rather it can be used as a • supplemental technique, e.g., as a student-break between segments of a lecture or a jump-start for class discussion, or as a • format, it is useful for social and subject-matter ice-breakers, experiential learning activities, cases debriefing, foreign language proficiency exercises, problem solving exercises, classroom assessment techniques, and help and review sessions (Nilson, 1998)

  25. Online Applications Communication tools (email, discussion, chat, and web conferencing) can be used for • Study groups • Collaborative learning activities • Group problem solving • Group discussion (Chickering & Ehrmann, 1996)

  26. Examples of Group Work in Class http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5a7hP9doTBg

  27. Effective Group Facilitation Strategies

  28. Effective Group Facilitation Strategies • Positive interdependence • Face-to-face promotive interaction • Individual accountability and personal responsibility • Interpersonal and small group skills • Group processing (Bianco-Mathis & Chalofsky, 1999, p. 31; Johnson & Johnson, 1999; Nilson, 1998)

  29. Effective Group Facilitation Strategies • Match group size to activity • informal activity (2-4 students) • formal activity (4-6 students) • Set intermittent deadlines and offer continual feedback • Include self and peer assessment • Assign differentiated group or individual grades • Maintain the groups for the duration of the semester • Avoid forming groups which have only one woman or one minority (Johnson & Johnson, 1999; Millis & Cotrell, 1998; Nilson, 1998)

  30. Effective Group Facilitation Strategies Group work is successful when advance planning takes place. • Students are divided into groups for each specific activity. • Time frames must be stated and followed, and be generally short. • Once the groupings are established and time frames determined, the next key is clear expectation of the goals of the group work. • Group work must be monitored. (Clement, 2010, pp. 88-9)

  31. Group Selection Methods for selecting group members • student data sheet • interest/knowledge/skills checklist • learning style inventories • structured lineup process • corners • three-step interview • playing cards (Millis & Cotrell, 1998)

  32. Effective Group Facilitation Strategies Group work is successful when advance planning takes place. • Students are divided into groups for each specific activity. • Time frames must be stated and followed, and be generally short. • Once the groupings are established and time frames determined, the next key is clear expectation of the goals of the group work. • Group work must be monitored. (Clement, 2010, p. 89)

  33. Time Frames for Group Selection Short-term group selection criteria • values or opinions • convenience • random Long-term group selection criteria • academic ability • class/work schedule • interest/skill level • learning style (Millis & Cotrell, 1998)

  34. Effective Group Facilitation Strategies Group work is successful when advance planning takes place. • Students are divided into groups for each specific activity. • Time frames must be stated and followed, and be generally short. • Once the groupings are established and time frames determined, the next key is clear expectation of the goals of the group work. • Group work must be monitored. (Clement, 2010, pp. 89-90)

  35. Effective Group Facilitation Strategies Group work is successful when advance planning takes place. • Students are divided into groups for each specific activity. • Time frames must be stated and followed, and be generally short. • Once the groupings are established and time frames determined, the next key is clear expectation of the goals of the group work. • Group work must be monitored. (Clement, 2010, p. 90)

  36. Large Classes and Group Work http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1J1URbdisYE

  37. Using Groups: Tips and Strategies (Bianco-Mathis & Chalofsky, 1999, p. 33)

  38. Using Groups: Tips and Strategies (Bianco-Mathis & Chalofsky, 1999, p. 33)

  39. Using Groups: Tips and Strategies (Bianco-Mathis & Chalofsky, 1999, p. 33)

  40. Using Groups: Tips and Strategies (Bianco-Mathis & Chalofsky, 1999, p. 33)

  41. Resources Available Online

  42. Handling “Slackers” Other students find working with slackers to be frustrating due to a lack of indifference on the slackers’ part and THEY deal with them by • ignoring them, • including them, or • confronting them. (Myers, et. al., 2009)

  43. Tips for Facilitators http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5a7hP9doTBg

  44. Assessment of Group Work

  45. Assessment of Group Work • Clarify expectations for collaboration. • Describe grading criteria clearly. • Assure workload is evenly distributed among members. • Choose an activity that is important and relevant. • Assess both the group and the individual.

  46. Group Activities & Assessment http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUSN8vHRB-A

  47. Key Points to Successful Group Work • Take care in the formation of groups-and keep the time frame for group work short. • Have a reason for group work and make the objectives clear. • Assign roles and monitor groups. • While groups need to present back to the class for feedback, grade only individuals’ work. It is not fair to grade a student based on another student’s participation or work. • Don’t use group work every day or even every week. Use it when it fits a goal for your teaching and student learning. (Clement, 2010, pp. 90-1)

  48. In Summary Pregent (1994, p.75) asserts that there is not one “best” teaching strategy and that the decision about which to use depends to a large extent on the following five factors • the nature of the students in the class; • the subject matter; • the professor’s personality; • the physical and material conditions; and • the targeted objectives. (Bianco-Mathis & Chalofsky, 1999, p. 26)

  49. In Summary “The effective teacher selects the right teaching strategy for each lesson, based on the students, their backgrounds, and the material to be covered, and the instructor’s own comfort levels with teaching in certain ways. Group work is one way to get students to interact with the material. Grouping students for discussions, reviews, and brainstorming or problem-solving activities can be quite effective. As with any strategy or method, the true key for success is matching the goals of the lesson to the method that helps students learn.” (Clement, 2010, p. 91)

  50. Thank you for your participation! Debra Dunlap Runshe, Instructional Development Specialist University Information Technology Services Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Information Technology and Communications Complex (IT 342H)535 West Michigan Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202Phone: 317-278-0589  Email: drunshe@iupui.edu