We all know that group learning fosters social skills, but why is small-group learning such an advantage for students’ cognitive development?
A Sydney-based paper released by the Education Department outlined some big reasons:
- Group learning ‘requires the establishment of an environment of support (and) trust’
A small group learning scenario allows students to prepare for ‘real world’ education challenges.
In a workshop situation where students are preparing for an exam, for example, they gain confidence and skill as they are given the opportunity to practice, to try, to make mistakes and to learn how to improve – in a safe environment where other students are doing the same – before they get to the real-life, competitive exam situation.
2. Group learning ‘promotes student learning and achievement’
As students see their peers taking risks in class discussions, having a go at working with new concepts and achieving results, they are motivated to achieve for themselves. Furthermore, group discussions allow students to share their knowledge and ideas and extend them through linking with that of other students.
3. It makes the unit of study challenging, interesting, motivating, engaging, and fun (for everyone)!
Let’s not overlook this important point: students are motivated by working together. While there may be initial anxiety for some students in joining a new group, they soon become accustomed to their new environment and begin to enjoy sharing learning with others. Groups make for a dynamic learning environment, allowing the teacher to create more interactive learning experiences.
Group classes allow students to feel ok about doing schoolwork outside of school hours when they are part of a group. In particular, school holiday programs allow students to revise and consolidate knowledge while they are fresh – often in the morning, instead of at the end of a long school day. While ongoing study throughout the term is important, students can brush up their skills or keep new skills fresh with a few focused hours of holiday work, making for both a productive and enjoyable holiday period.