About Student Small Group
What are the reasons for breaking the class up
into small groups? Why are the groups set up for approximately equal
academic abilities in its members (balanced groups)?
In a Class of Mostly Unbalanced Groups
- The teaching goal for the
members of small groups should be:
- Learning to work in groups.
- Learning personal responsibility for
- Master the material being
- Stretch students to reach their maximum
- These goals are not
- To inflate the scores of underachieving
- To protect the egos of underachieving
- Slower students are likely to not try to
stretch their minds.
- Slower students would tend to take a free ride
on the faster students.
- Faster students will be held back because
others of equal ability do not stretch them
- It is more likely that every group will need
attention from the teacher.
In a Class of Mostly Balanced
- Fast Groups
- Through their synergy, each will be
stretched towards their maximum potential.
- Those groups will need little or no
assistance during their projects.
- Slower Groups
- There will be greater force to work
together, and take responsibility for the end
- The students will be moving towards their
- These groups are more likely to need the
teacher's help, thus the teacher's efforts will be more
effective because several students will benefit from the same
help. The teacher should monitor these groups during the group
process, and act as a catalyst, facilitator, or direct teacher.
- More students who need help will be helped
in less time.
Assuming that slower students will learn the
material or learn the group cooperative process simply by being in a
group along with more advanced students is the equivalent of teaching
by example or by osmosis. This author has discussed the weakness of
this approach. See "A
Good Example is the Best Teacher -
Prior to using small groups, the teacher should teach a short
lesson about working in groups.
- See lesson plan ph-g3-4.htm.
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- Written by Russ Andrews, 13 Mar '03
- Update: 16 Jul '03