In-class groupwork

In-class groupworkBringing groupwork into the class room gets students engaged with their material and applying theory into practice.

  • Encourage students to prepare for class by providing them with a reading, podcast, or experiment to complete.
  • Checking individual preparation by a quiz or requesting a reading summary helps to motivate students.
  • Design class time for students to work in groups to apply theory/data to a specific problem requiring a decision.
  • Great class discussions follow when all groups work on a same problem.
  • Simultaneous reporting reduces class time spent on hearing what groups have done and allows time to be spent on discussing their reasoning.
  • In-class groupwork can contribute to overall assessment if students remain in the same group and hand-in an assessable reasoning for their choice.
  • In-class groupwork can be used intermittently during the semester complementing other teaching or as part of the weekly lecture/tutorial design.

Why

People learn best when they see, hear, say and do. Lectures are therefore not effective for transmitting information as only one person does most of the talking. In-class group work during lectures times creates excitement for the topic and understanding why what is learnt matters.

Groupwork is often challenged by practical difficulties of meeting times and students. These challenges are reduced when students work in-class and any other challenges in group dynamic can be addressed immediately by the teaching team.

Incorporating in-class groupwork with individual and/or team quizzes (also known as readiness tests) works well. The combination creates an enthusiastic, active and motivated strategy for students to engage with their subject and take responsibility for their learning.

Examples

  • Introduce 15 minute group task for groups to choose the best option (there may not be a correct one) from a list provide in a case directly related to the lecture topic. Organise students to report their choice simultaneously and run a discussion on the pros and cons of different choices. Students can then be asked to submit an individual assignment on providing reasons for their own choice.
  • Use a large part of a lecture for in-class groupwork a few times in a semester where students work in the same group and produce a group answer to a relevant application problem. The groups report simultaneously in class on their choice for a class discussion. The group can be given an opportunity to refine their response following the class discussion. The group answer is part of overall assessment.

Further resources