Group Work in Higher Education
The effectiveness and significance of group work in higher education cannot be denied at any level. The group activities and tasks at higher education help both students and the teacher. The teacher can manage hundreds of individual students in a high-quality way. It also helps students by making them learn about employability skills.
Employers consider that individual a better potential employee who has already developed interpersonal and team-building skills. Employers have a desire for effective group players to play different roles in changing projects during employment.
Discussion – Group Work in Higher Education
People tend to join groups in order to gain personal interaction or to establish their meaning and identity. From an educational perspective, the primary reason for the formation of a group of students is to plan and execute various learning and assessment activities.
The group participation and group communication are found to be positively correlated with group size and the complexity of the group. Wertheim has defined group work at a higher education level as a way to achieve complementary skills. These skills result in serving a common purpose and mutual accountability.
According to Jacques, the group should possess interaction, interdependence, shared aims, and cohesiveness in order to become successful. The responsibilities of members of the group vary. It depends on the individual what role he wants to play in the group.
The learning outcome of the group also depends on the leader of the group. It is, therefore, crucial to determine the person who leads the group. The person can be the student or the lecturer himself. The role is also defined as the forefront individual or an individual with the subdued role.
The complexity of group participation can be clarified by shifting the responsibilities. This enables the students to understand all types of role-playing in group work. Participation enhances the learning process and also increases leadership skills when responsibilities are assigned.
Thus, it is evident that if a leadership environment is encouraged, then the learning capabilities of students are enhanced. There are many problems that are created due to unequal group participation. These can be problems of free riding, conflict management, and problem-solving. All these problems suppress the learning experience.
The dynamics of each group are different. The groups also go through conformity pressure and they are influenced by social forces also. Thus it widens the decision-making skills of students and also influences the overall performance of the group. It is very important for group members to understand the underlying theories and concepts before implementing the group work.
In order to enhance group communication, a group orientation session is also necessary. Jacques proposed in 2000 that small group discussion act as a valuable source of communication in transferring education to the student.
Team-based learning or group work encourages the formation of high-performance learning teams. It also allows individuals or teams to participate and gain experience in tasks that are important and educational. However, it is of key importance that the group is cohesively and shares a strong sense of commitment.
The group should also possess a high degree of trust among the group members in order to take advantage of group communication and group participation.