Monday, June 25, 2012


Question: Why is teaching how to work in groups important?

Answer/Quote: “Collaborative learning teaches students to work together when the stakes are relatively low, so that they can work together effectively later on when the stakes are high.” Kenneth A. Bruffee.

Quote: “Kenneth JA. Bruffee’s quotation above emphasizes the idea that collaborative learning is not a skill reserved only for the classroom. After graduation, few of us ever feel the need to wield a #2 pencil against an army of bubble tests or write a book report including no fewer than five quotations. Collaborative learning is, however, something that all our students will employ once they finish their formal education, and while it isn’t something that can be objectively tested by standardized exams, it is something we can teach.” P. 83.

Quote: “The role of group work in education will continue to undergo study and development. Both employers and civic  leaders continue to emphasize the importance of young adults developing the skills that enable them to succeed at collective efforts. Students, schooled to value individual achievement, continue to resist and worry about group work. Like any other group, students and teachers need to listen to each other and work together to get the best results. I collect data from my students about their group work each term in part because no  class ever fully meets the goals I have imagined for it.” P. 88.

Comment: Group work is difficult to teach. As the author indicates, you just need to keep learning from your experiences with it. In my next blog, I will reprint from my book (Teaching English, How To…. Xlibris, 2004) an interesting article by David M. Litsey from the English Journal in 1969 that offers a perspective on the roles people play in small-group discussion. RayS.

Title: “ ‘I Hate Group Work!’ Social Loafers, Indignant Peers, and the Drama of the Classroom.” Megan Lynn Isaac. English Journal (March 2012), 83-89.

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