Dr. Alandra Kalh helping an engineering student

How do students want to learn in the classroom?

Group projects have always been controversial in the college classroom. Many people strongly dislike group projects while others think they are a wonderful learning experience. Teachers also have their own opinions on group work in their classes. Some majors emphasize group projects more than others.

Students and professors on campus were interviewed about their stances on group work vs. working alone.

Adam Smith, a freshman studying Biology, had a very interesting response to the idea of group work. He explained, “Working in groups or working alone depends on the goal for me. When studying for exams, I prefer a group so we can share strategies to remembering the material. When it comes to understanding concepts, I prefer working alone so I can connect with my own life somehow to make it easier to remember.”

In a majoEngineering students working on group projectsr such as engineering, group work is vital. According to Professor Kahl, an engineering instructor, “I give my students group projects. Collaborative work is a great way for students to learn from each other and it also mimics engineering projects in the real world, as engineers frequently work in teams to solve problems.”

Jen Keefer has the same views as Professor Kahl. She said, “I like working in groups because it gives me a chance to connect with others and learn the material at the same time.” Jen is sophomore who studies Kinesiology.

Dr. Mazur, a professor in Psychology said, “In my 400-level courses students sometimes work in small groups during class time. However, these small assignments only have a minimal amount of points assigned to them and are for in-class time only. I use these small groups of between 2-4 students to break up the lecture format, and to increase interest, student participation, attendance, etc. Also, students from different backgrounds often learn from each other in ways that increase their understanding of the topic at hand.”

Some students may agree with Dr. Mazur’s methods, such as Ronald Dushack, a sophomore studying electrical engineering. Ronald said, “I like to work in groups because others may present a way of thinking about something I may not have thought of myself.” Dr. Mazur and Ronald both think that group work could potentially bring different interesting ways of learning to the table.

Several students interviewed pointed out disadvantages, such as Danijela Juric and Zachary Mansfield. Danijela said, “Groups can be unreliable so working with one can be a bad idea if your partners don’t do the work.” Danijela is a sophomore studying Veterinary Medicine. Zachary is a sophomore studying electrical engineering. He stated, “I prefer to work alone. People never get the work load done evenly. Someone always ends up doing more work and that is usually me.”

Professor Clarke, an instructor in communications stated, “I always assign at least one group assignment in my classes every semester. I don’t prefer group work but I think it’s important that students have that learning experience before entering the workplace. So many jobs these days require work team experiences so it’s very helpful for that transition.”

About half the students interviewed liked group projects, which seemed counter to the belief that most students hate group projects. Professors also had different views on the value of group work in their classrooms.

What are your views on group work? Comment below and let us know!

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