Changing my mind on group work

Filling the pail

Group work is a default strategy for many teachers. Many forms of differentiation, such as the model used by the L3 program in New South Wales, require group work. Other teachers use it as a way of adding variety to lessons. If pushed to think about the research on group work, they may suggest it is good practice and link this to Vygotsky and social constructivism.

I tend to avoid group work in my own teaching. The only time I feel the need to create groups is when I want science students to complete practical work and resources won’t allow for them to work individually. However, my avoidance has not been due to scepticism about the effectiveness of group work. Until now, I have been persuaded by the arguments of Robert Slavin.

Briefly, Slavin surveyed the evidence on collaborative learning and found that it can be effective if two…

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