Working in groups is a real challenge for people of all ages. Students can learn its importance from a very young age, and group work is included in all educational systems. Handling it, though, needs some training and wisdom. Let us see how students of schools and universities can use it to see how it can prove valuable in the future cooperation of the next generations.
Care about the process, not just the result
Group work that happens in the classroom is more like a game than it is an evaluation technique. Students tend to perceive it as a game, which is how the instructor should communicate it. Therefore, basing our reactions on the outcome of the students’ efforts is unnecessary.
Here, professors should care more about the process than the result since, apart from other things, group work attempts to encourage cooperation and build stronger bonds between the class members.
The teacher’s contribution
Students, regardless of their age, expect the instructor’s reactions and feedback. The professor will have to work in two directions. One is to evaluate the learners individually, and the other is to focus on what the team has accomplished.
The second part is more crucial to pass the message that this is all about teamwork. However, one should remember to talk about each student separately. Otherwise, they will feel that their contribution has been neglected, and they will lose the motivation for any group work in the future.
Keeping a balance between individuals and the general concept of a team is essential. Remember that the team that will gather next time will consist of different people, so students should not see their team as they see themselves.
Teams change their members, but individuals cannot change themselves so easily. This is a curse and a blessing at the same time, which is why one should keep a balance to avoid confusing the students.
What should learners do?
The pupils of a school class or the college students in a university all share the same anxieties. Group work has the advantage that it gives them plenty of space to communicate their thoughts about the lesson, the work, and the process. Starting by asking each member what they think about the team’s performance helps learners prioritize cooperation as a valued and vital concept.
Next, we can ask everyone how they feel they have contributed in particular. Students will be allowed to talk about themselves and clarify why they think they are helpful.
Finally, learners can be encouraged to talk about other group members. This will strengthen their bonds and help them understand how to express themselves openly. In other words, we attempt to put the students in the role of the ”judge” to help them see that succeeding is their responsibility. If they exclude the element of fear, evaluation can be a very useful process.
Ask them to compare their team with other teams
Lastly, since the classroom has probably been divided into a few teams, ask the learners to think about how their team has made it compared to other teams. The idea here is that learners need to understand that performance results from many complex interactions that occur in the workplace. First, they see themselves as individuals, then they have to clarify that they are only members of a greater concept called ”team”, and finally, they have to realize that this team they have created is only considered as a unit by other people’s eyes.
When they start evaluating other teams alone without caring about each individual’s contribution, they will realize that this is how others look at them at this point. Other students will finally see the performance of the rest of the teams without having the luxury to focus on how each member helped. Therefore, the power of the team is greater than we assume, and this is a perfect way to help students realize it.
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