Chris's Midterm Revision

Blog » Chris's Midterm Revision

Posted on 25 May 2013 03:09

Group Learning

Team-centric projects often constitute the majority of projects that one will encounter in the workplace. Having multiple people collaboratively work on the same project is often beneficial because team members can learn from each other’s work as well as split up larger projects into more manageable sections. Any major company will hold its own share of team building exercises to ensure that co-workers can effectively work and communicate together, as well as learn from each other.

Despite this emphasis in the workplace, it has come to my attention that group-focused learning is not stressed in academia. Rather, a student’s goal is often to think and work solely for himself, for he is the one that will receive the grade in the end. In fact, working collaboratively is even discouraged at times when there is a set limit on the number of each particular letter grade that will be distributed to students.

It is with this in mind that I will propose a method of reconciling this disparity by incorporating group oriented learning into the local school district’s curriculum. Obviously there are certain limitations on implementing this model when it comes to math and science classes; however, there are clearly places where collaborative learning can be implemented in the liberal arts. One such experience I had with a class that executed this strategy very well was a writing for engineers class that I took in my freshman year of college. Using that class as a model, I hope to show you an effective model of group-focused learning that could potentially be implemented into English classes throughout the district.

The class itself was centered around an online class wikidot page where we publicly posted and displayed our writing for the class. One of the most utilized features of the wiki page was the blog. The blog was the space in which we posted our writing responses to the specific writing prompts of the class. This in itself presented an interesting dynamic. What I noticed was that the original intentions of the individual writers were usually to elaborate upon a topic that was relatively specific to them. However, unlike most English classes in which students submit papers never to be seen by anyone else, posting to the blog turned every written document into public knowledge so that other members of the class could learn from their posts and also offer them constructive feedback through the comment system of the wiki. This conversion from private to public knowledge was one of the key factors in promoting the sense of teamwork and community in the class.

Another interesting component of the wiki was the reflective annotated bibliography. In this section of the wiki, students summarized and reflected upon the readings that we had done in class. When students wrote these entries, not only were they intending to enhance their own understanding of the documents, but they were also formatting their writing in a way that could be easily understood by their peers, as their audience was the rest of the class. It was through this kind of public display of knowledge and the idea of writing in order to enhance each other’s understanding that the class really began to take on the feel of a community striving to learn something from one another rather than a bunch of people each trying to just get a high grade with little regard for the rest of the class.
In addition, several of the major projects in the course were group projects that had to be completed in teams. This required the students to practice effective communication methods and think collectively, both of which will be necessary in the working world. There were also peer review sessions for almost every major assignment in which students were able to provide feedback on each other’s work. Not only did this help the students whose writing was being reviewed, but it also helped the students who were reviewing the writing in that they were able to learn from the writing of their peers.

As you can see, the ways in which this class deviated from more traditional English classes changed the classroom dynamic from a collection of individual, solitary efforts to a more or less unified group effort. Therefore, I believe that implementing a similar approach to the one I have just described would have a positive effect on the well-roundedness of our education system and better prepare students for the working world.

Leave a comment

Add a New Comment
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License