Every good teacher always tries not only to provide knowledge to his students but also to make learning interesting, motivating and life oriented. That’s where group study can be an extremely useful practice. It helps to improve the process of education and prepare students for real-life experience.
Nowadays the aspect of group study is especially important for college students. Going to college is already a challenge for young people because the level of education is advanced and more intensive compared to high school. Moreover, college papers and assignments require deeper studying and a larger amount of time and effort. However, working in a group can increase productivity through cooperation and brainstorming. Besides, when individuals learn together, they develop their communicative skills, form strong bonds with each other and strengthen friendly ties.
The main benefits of a group work
Among the major benefits of group activity the following aspects should be mentioned:
- Working in a team, individuals have an opportunity to share their skills and resources, achieving better results.
- Learning in cooperation, students show better knowledge acquisition and problem-solving abilities than their classmates, who prefer working alone.
- Group work helps the learners develop their critical thinking and improve their studying and academic achievements through the understanding of what is already adopted and what is still needed to be grasped.
- Such educational approach improves students’ communicational and a number of professional development skills.
- Cooperation has a positive influence on social relationships and networking skills development.
Study groups in class activities
Study groups in college can be organized in two ways – by the tutors during their classes and by the students themselves. Preparing for the sessions lots of students nowadays prefer studying with friends to individual work.
In case you are a tutor and you’ve made up your mind to implement group activity in the classroom, study the advice below to make it successful and effective.
1. Prepare carefully:
- Discuss the experience of a group work the students already have.
- Make it a must for the learners to cooperate in a friendly professional manner with respect to people’s differences.
- Arrange groups, so that it’s comfortable for the participants to work together.
2. Design the activity:
- Figure out the academic and the social aim of your work in tie relation to the course objectives and class content.
- Make the task challenging to stimulate students’ interest and progress.
- Assign the task so that every teammate realizes that he bears personal responsibility for the group success. It will guarantee powerful motivation and will not let anybody goof around.
- Arrange cooperation in multiple forms: pairs, small and large groups, value and include roles of all kinds.
3. Introduce and explain the activity
- Make the aim and the benefits of the work clear to the students.
- Allow the teams to form before they know the task.
- Use introduction of team members as an icebreaker in your collaborative work.
- Explain the task clearly, it’s better to have instructions, visual or written.
- Set the rules and principles for the interaction.
- Flush out all the issues answering the students’ questions.
4. Monitor the process
- Clarify that you only play the role of a facilitator.
- Avoid interfering with group functioning.
- Express confidence in your students.
5. Provide the croup activity closure in a proper way.
- Arrange a closure of the session.
- Organize group reporting.
- Make the students share their impressions of the work performed.
Teamwork in the process of preparation for sessions
Besides using group activities in the classroom as a tutor, you can also motivate your students to prepare for the lessons together as well. Teamwork can have multiple advantages for the young learners.
Firstly, it helps to cope with the procrastination problem. A person alone can always postpone the preparation for a lecture or seminar until the last moment, but with the fellow-students, it works the other way. A study group meets at a specific time and everybody should be present for the effective work of the whole team.
Secondly, working together the students can learn faster, discussing the material they have studied. One of the main benefits of group discussion is the possibility to ask questions and get the answers from those, who have understood certain difficult or confusing aspects.
The third benefit lies in the fact that exchanging opinions the students broaden their perspectives and develop critical thinking being able to see various points of view.
New studying methods exchange goes as the fourth advantage. Every student develops his own tricks and techniques of mastering new information and skills and learning in a group everybody can share his experience and methods, which work best.
Building up social interaction skills is the last, but not the least benefit to be mentioned. The power of teamwork is widely used in social life and business world. Young people have a wonderful opportunity to develop such cooperation during their studentship.
Effective group creation
Best-performing study groups consist of 4 to 6 members. In such a case there‘s minimum socialization, which interferes with effective work, and maximum individual contribution, which guarantees that everybody is involved.
The study-fellows should be dedicated to the mutual goal and be of the same level of competence, though each of them may have unique talents or skills.
The optimal session duration is between 2 or 3 hours, it helps to stay focused. If the session lasts less, there is a risk to be unproductive due to the rush, if lasts more – productivity may decrease because of excessive socializing.
It’s best to meet on a regular basis in the same location and for a session of several hours. In such a way each team-mate would be able to fit the work into his personal schedule and prepare for the meeting in a proper way.
In conclusion, it should be noted that while college education may seem more time-consuming than lots of students are used to, properly arranged group work can make the process faster, easier and definitely much more enjoyable for the learners and tutors as well.