Group Work in the Classroom: Definition, Benefits & Examples

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Carnevale

Jennifer taught 9th grade ELA and AP Literature for over 8 years. She has a dual master's in English Literature and Teaching Secondary Ed from Simmons University and a BS in Psychology. She is also a contracted freelance writer and certified AP Test Reader.

Do you like or dislike group work? However you feel, group work still has some major benefits to thinking, growing, and learning. In this lesson, we'll learn about different types of strategies and concepts behind group work in the classroom. Updated: 02/12/2021

When the Teacher Says Group Work

Imagine being a student. When you hear '~group work,`' do you moan and roll your eyes? Or do you do an inner cheer since you get to share the responsibility for work and talk to other people at the same time? Group work forces everyone to be on the same page. What are the positives that result from group work, and how can it help our students succeed?

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  • 0:04 When the Teacher Says…
  • 0:27 Group Work Purpose
  • 0:55 Group Work Examples
  • 3:48 Grouping Students
  • 5:10 Group Work Benefits
  • 5:57 Lesson Summary
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Group Work Purpose

Group work is simply defined as more than one person working together to complete a task or assignment. In the classroom, group work can take many forms; however, the goal remains the same—to get students to interact with each other and collaborate to complete a unified task. By doing so, we are getting students to work with people they may never have chosen to work with. This concept teaches diversity, communication, and compromise.

Group Work Examples

There is not one way to format group work. It can be used for most assignments and projects, formal or informal.

Classwork

Let's start by looking at work in the classroom. It can become boring and monotonous to simply lecture and have students practice after. A great way to keep things engaging is to add group work into your routine. Here are a few things you can do.

Think, Pair, Share

For example, say you taught irony in your English class. This would be a great time to introduce think, pair, share. Think, pair, share, or TPS, has students work on all levels. First, have students think independently about the definition and examples you have provided and ask them to come up with their own example of irony. After a short time, pair students together and have them talk about what they came up with. Lastly, have the groups share out loud so the entire class can hear. The students not only have to work independently, but they also have to collaborate and communicate their ideas to others.

Jigsaw

Another great strategy is jigsaw. This is where students become experts on one topic, and then they share that information with others. Say we are in biology class, and students are learning about the parts of a cell. First, split students into groups and have each group read an article or research a topic together. Topics could include the nucleus, cell wall, mitochondria, etc. Groups will become experts on their assigned topic.

Next, the teacher breaks up the expert groups and combines them with others. There should be one student in each group that has learned a different topic. For example, in group A, there should be a student who researched the cell wall, one who researched the nucleus, another who researched the mitochondria, etc. Each expert will share their knowledge so that all students can learn the parts of the cell.

Projects and Larger Assignments

Now let's look at some examples of projects and larger assignments that can involve group work:

Group work can be a formal task given with the objective of having students complete a major project or assignment for a test grade. For example, say you're having students work on a propaganda project in your history class, and you give the option of making a propaganda video. Now, you have more students that have a larger working knowledge of videography, propaganda, and the creativity of putting it all together.

If you're worried about grading an assignment like this, you can have students fill out anonymous peer evaluations to ensure that all worked well together, which can be taken into consideration when grading. You can also add an individual component, such as a writing portion, which shows an individual's understanding of the task to see what each student took away from the assignment.

Grouping Students

There are many ways in which we can group students, but it depends on the topic, assignment, and students. Here are a few ways you can group students in your classroom:

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