Tag: Group Work

Benefits of Small Group Stations in Class

Small group stations set in place in larger classes can give students more opportunities to participate, work as a team, and receive more personalized instruction.  Here are several benefits of starting small group stations or workshops.

  • Hands-on learning opportunities
    Small group stations afford students the chance to work with their hands with labs, small experiments, puzzles, and even physical activities.  A smaller group means that each student will have more of a chance to take an active role in the activity, and the station becomes a hands-on challenge for the students, rather than a demonstration by the instructor.  Students will generally remember what they learn through these stations better than if they had learned the same concepts from a demonstration because they are actively involved.

  • Group focus
    Small group stations are heavily focused on group work, which is very different than the traditional lecture-based format of the classroom.  Because of this setup, students will feel more motivated to involve themselves in their education, ask questions, and participate.

  • Peer learning
    Often, students who have enjoyed certain workshops in the past will revisit the class in later years and assist in leading a small group station, giving the new students a chance to learn from their peers.  This type of learning can sometimes be more effective, as many students feel more comfortable asking older peers for help or more detailed explanations.  The older students also have the opportunity to learn better teaching skills as a result.

These aspects of small group stations will ultimately provide students with a new and different approach to learning that could be highly beneficial.

Maximizing the Benefits of Group Projects

Students can learn much more than just class material from a group project, including team management skills, leadership, and creativity.  Here are several ways for maximizing the benefits of group projects for students.

  • Creative format
    Group projects that involve creative media, such as film, art, or cooking, can often get students more excited about the project.  Even simple presentations can elicit more participation and involvement rather than a simple worksheet, paper, or poster board.  Having a more creative format can also shift students’ perceptions of what the project should be like; if the project resembles many individual assignments in the class, then students will default to individual work, rather than group work.

  • Time to work in class
    Often times, students are incredibly busy with extracurricular activities, sports, and instrument practice.  Allowing a few minutes of class time for the group to meet and organize the project will greatly benefit students, as it will allow them to develop and implement a schedule for themselves.  At the very least, it will give them a chance to set up another meeting time outside of class.

  • Student evaluations
    Having the students evaluate each other can be a very useful way to maximize the benefits of a group project.  It will give the instructor a better idea of how the group worked together, and it will give him or her a better understanding of the work distribution for the project.  Ideally, students should also be evaluating the project itself, giving feedback for what could be improved for the next year.

With these techniques in place, students are ready to get the most out of their next group project.