Fear and loathing about group work

Starting the third topic with FISh approach starts to feel routine already! Our group gets to work, knowing that first it is a bit scattered, but it will boil down to a nice piece.

This topic was something our group was enthusiastic about. We found that enabling successful group work requires motivation from the learners, and for that the learners need to see the learning process in a new way. There must be a mindset shift from the teacher and content centred learning to learner and learning process centred. This would of course affect other aspects of learning, but our group considered that the mindset shift is a requirement for a group to work efficiently together.

From my personal experience in science and engineering, not all the students are very thrilled about doing group work. They rather study individually. Other PBL group members shared same experience. So how to improve this and inspire the students for group work? We concluded to investigate this more in a frame of an exaggerated case. We portrayed an engineering student with all the negative and false conceptions about group work: how it is just easy for the teacher, how some students just exploit other’s work, how they will never have to do group work after graduation.

For the student we then created justified arguments why group work actually is an effective way to work. We convinced the fictional student how it will be there all the way through their professional career, even if called with different names. That is simply because groups and teams are effective! We presented our work as a series of videos on flipgrid.

When reflecting our group’s findings towards the implementation for group work in my courses, I also think that group work must be wrapped into a package that is more appealing to the students. Ideally so that already the first impressions of the task resonate with their expectations about meaningful studying and more importantly their career expectations, i.e. that it is relevant for them and it is visible in the task setting. Besides the task, the expectations (content, format, time) should be transparent. These parameters have been also recognized by Brindley, Walti and Blaschke [1]. Maybe in technical education the traditional conception of learning (content and teacher centred) is still strong, but I am certain that through experiences of successful group work also the conception of learning will shift towards the learner and learning process centred.

This was an interesting topic and our group’s findings will be so useful for me. What a wonderful piece of group work again!

[1] J. E. Brindley, C. Walti, L. M. Blaschke, Creating Effective Collaborative Learning Groups in an Online Environment, International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10, 2009. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v10i3.675

Posted by Ville Miikkulainen

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Fear and loathing about group work

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *