In many seminars, the lecturer specifies that the topic of the presentation is not treated individually, but as group work. Many professors are unaware that this not only benefits learners. For example, it may be that the group members have different ideas about the speed of work or that the individual group members are engaged in different ways for the work in the team (keyword “freeloaders”).
Moreover, it is far from easy to find an appointment together or regular appointments for the processing, which fits all members. What further potential disadvantages and the advantages of group work are explained below. In addition, you will receive useful tips on how to make the group work as effective and successful as possible.
Possible disadvantages of teamwork
Not infrequently, the work in the team is a Kaffeeklatsch or a meeting among friends – quickly gets the actual goal out of sight. To avoid this, a fixed period should be set for work together in the group. During this period, it is important to focus exclusively on group work – friendly, private discussions can then take place.
As already mentioned, there are so-called freeloaders. This term refers to people who do not or do not contribute much to the work in the group and still want to “reap glory”. This can quickly lead to frustration within the group. You should regularly review the personal benefits of group work for you. If you notice that you are more likely to work in a team, it is advisable to switch to self-study (provided you have the choice).
Benefits of cooperative learning
Learning in a team is not about “putting a product on the table” as quickly as possible, but learning in and of itself must be in the foreground.
Learning in a group provides the opportunity to get to know and understand the perspectives and perspectives of the other group members in relation to a specific topic. In addition, the group members benefit from the knowledge of the other participants. If there is a pleasant climate in the working group, everyone can expand their skills and knowledge.
The following cognitive, social and emotional-motivational advantages go hand in hand with cooperative forms of learning:
Working in a group promotes the ability to discuss and group members learn to defend their arguments against others. In addition, the participants learn to present information and terms in a structured and understandable way. All in all, one’s own knowledge is checked, supplemented and changed or stabilized.
Social work is also promoted in group work: the group members understand that there is not the right “truth” but several possible “truths”. This results in a more tolerant attitude towards other points of view. One learns to solve conflicts and misunderstandings.
For many, working in a team is more motivating than independent learning. Each member of the group has different prior knowledge, so that the learning and / or the quality and the creativity of the learning compared to the independent learning are increased clearly.
Group work promotes the learning and perseverance of the individual members.
Recommendations for group work
The following are recommendations on how to design a group work to make the result as good as possible.
The nuts and bolts of working in a team is the willingness of all group members to cooperate. If this condition is not met, the common task is doomed to failure.
There has to be a climate of acceptance and trust. Members should not be ashamed to ask questions and information must always be recorded and exchanged.
Ideally, the team does not consist of more than 7 people. The most effective way to work in a group is if it consists of 3 to 4 members. The bigger the team, the harder it is to coordinate the task. In addition, as the size of a group increases, so does the risk that individual members will not get involved in the work.
The group members should have the same level of performance as possible. So everyone can contribute and the group is not dominated by one or two people.
The work program of the group should be determined concretely, i. A binding plan should be set in terms of objectives, scope and working hours.
The tasks of the group members should be clearly distributed from meeting to meeting.
The behavior in the workgroup should always be reflected. If, for example, there is a freeloader in the group, this can certainly be addressed in an appropriate manner. The cooperation must not turn into competition. Honesty and a trusting relationship among the participants are of crucial importance.
Encouraging words and other methods of motivation are also important. It should be clarified time and again, why the group goal is important and how close you have come to this already.
The most important recommendations at a glance
In the following, the principles for a successful group work are summarized briefly:
the individual participants must identify with the team
all members of the working group must actively participate in the work
define jointly binding dates and deadlines
a group contract can help to determine the procedure
This avoids misunderstandings and problems while working.
It is not just presentations or seminar papers that can be designed as group work, but learn more with the following tips.