Wednesday, December 12, 2012


If you’re like me, your stomach turns inside and you groan whenever you read that there is a “group project” on the syllabus.  I’ve always preferred to work on my own – high school, college, and even when organizing something for work.  There are many reasons why I prefer to work individually; in the past, it usually had to do with me doing most of the work anyway and another person getting a grade for it.  Going to group meetings was a pain; working with people you don’t know is a pain – basically, the whole thing gets on my nerves.  Today, while working on my Master’s Degree, it is still required in most classes that we collaborate on some assignments.  While lazy group members haven’t been a problem in this program (yay! J) it is still somewhat frustrating.  Technology issues, conflicting schedules, worrying that someone isn’t going to do their part, the list goes on…
So, why do teachers do this?  Why do teachers insist that students collaborate on assignments?  Research shows that students learn better while collaborating in a group setting.  Edutopia offers some insight to how a top-ranked college prep school incorporates collaboration into every subject.  In math class, students almost always work in groups of four to answer problems.  In English class, students in a large group sit in a circle and hold discussions.  The article shows that sitting in a circle is conducive to holding conversations because eye contact is unavoidable and everyone feels included. 
Making collaborative work focused and giving everyone a part is critical in a group’s success.  Even though it may often be frustrating, collaborating does often teach me a lot.  Not only does it teach about the content, but it also teaches me about teamwork, compromise, and responsibilities.  This is important to remember next time my stomach starts to turn.

1 comment:

  1. I do like to collaborate on things. The reasons I like doing this is that it allows me to view things from a different from a different perspective. Although it is sometimes difficult when taking these classes where they are all online and people come and go on their personal schedules it is nice to hear what others have to say. As a special education teacher I have in the past had students working in groups to accomplish employment related tasks. I would see kids who wanted to work together and those who did not. I also saw issues with communication at times and at other times I saw how well students have been able to talk and work together and accomplish a job. In the workplace we are required to collaborate with others on different projects so it seems to reason that our students should be learning to do this also.