Faculty Development & Learning Assessment

Small Group Learning

posted by Riley Quarles on 03/18/2010

At CELT we are avid proponents of integrating active learning strategies into your lessons. With class sizes increasing each year, more instructors are planning to incorporate small group activities to increase student engagement. There are many advantages and perceived disadvantages to small groups.

One obvious advantage is that when students are actively involved with the content, they learn more.(1) Breaking down large class sizes from 80-110 students into smaller groups for specific assignments promotes cooperative learning. Successful group learning experiences can be facilitated by the careful explanation of intended learning outcomes and the reasoning behind small group work, as well as a clear explanation of the small group’s processes, and a well defined rubric that outlines how their performance will be assessed.

Some of the disadvantages to be addressed include unfair distribution of workload, cultural differences, and communication breakdowns. Many of these issues can be addressed at the formation of the group through student discussions and contractual agreements. Please feel free to contact a member of the CELT team to discuss potential written “contracts” that students can complete and sign, listing their agreements and obligations to each other and to the instructor.

References
Collaborative Learning: Group Work and Study Teams, Group Work and Study Teams

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Entry References

References
Collaborative Learning: Group Work and Study Teams, Group Work and Study Teams