Is there a good reason for learning in groups or with other students?

There are several reasons that you might have an assignment which requires working with other students. Group work can reduce the amount of written work which needs to be marked by lecturers and tutors, especially in a large class. However, this is usually not the main reason for a group work assignment. Rather, there are important learning benefits of working with other students.

First, there is a lot of research in the field of Education which shows that discussing ideas with other students, helping to explain concepts, debating a point of view or working together on a task can lead to higher quality learning than just reading and attending lectures.

Second, working in groups requires special skills, including:

  • avoiding and resolving conflict
  • sharing and coordinating tasks
  • encouraging and managing group discussion, etc.

These skills are necessary for graduates in most disciplines, and particularly in those leading to professions which involve working with teams and groups, such as Engineering, Architecture, Business, Health Sciences, Education, etc. Group work is often an effective way of both learning these skills and demonstrating them for assessment.

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