Group work is an essential skillset that all students need to learn, as it is a model that best develops the interpersonal work skills they’ll need in college and careers beyond. It’s a function of teamwork and learning to contribute equally, but as teachers we know that it doesn’t always work that way. Often, the higher-achieving students take on more workload to ensure their own success, while other students take advantage of these hard working students to find excuses to do less work.
However, there are projects and lessons that require this kind of cooperative learning. As the teacher, there are ways to ensure group work will excel in your classroom. Here are four tips to help make sure all students are contributing, sharing, and of course, learning to the best of their abilities in the group work environment.
Make sure each student knows the expectations of each role and what his duties will be to complete his portion of the assignment. You should assign students equal amounts of work and ensure the roles have quantitative attributes that you can track.
There are ways to publish assignments live online, whether through Google Classroom or other online assessment programs where students can log in at the same time and contribute to the assignment. Working simultaneously online helps teachers track the contributions of each group member.
Each student should have her own reflection writing assignment at the end of the group work. This allows students to process the work they completed, reflect on how the group did as a whole, and give the teacher a stronger sense of what each student contributed. It also allows students to self-reflect on their contribution to the group.
While there should be a score for the group as a whole, make sure students are responsible for their own grade. Ownership of individual expectations and assessment will help ensure students remain on task and do their share of the work.
Keep in mind there are students who will try and over-achieve, as well as those who under perform. While we may praise this drive on individual assignments, remind students that part of the goal of this assignment is to work well in a group, which means the higher achieving student must learn to share the workload. It also means the students who may be coasting need to be monitored to make sure they are doing their part and working equally amongst the group.
Group work is a key component of classroom learning. Following these steps will help ensure your students find success!