Students at LSE typically work in smaller groups during seminars (masters) or classes (undergraduates). It is an opportunity for more detailed discussion of issues that have been raised in lectures, but they are also an ideal opportunity to build in group activities or group work.
Student engagement can be significantly greater in classes or seminar when compared to lectures, however if they are badly planned they can be confusing or frustrating for students. It is therefore very important to plan and manage small group activities and to make clear the expectations to students.
Some examples of the types of activities that can be undertaken in groups include:
⦿ Role playing or taking on different roles in a group to work on a scenario or problem
⦿ Discussing a problem or scenario and agreeing a collective outcome
⦿ Creating something (a video, web page, presentation or word document) as a group
⦿ Researching and analysing information to prepare a summary for their peers
⦿ Organising an event or activity for their peers
Group work is a particularly helpful way of students developing team working skills, which are essential in most workplaces today.
Small groups have numerous other advantages, for example students are often more comfortable participating in small group activities and they might be more inclined to ask questions than in a large lecture theatre.
It is also far easier for the tutor to engage with students and pick up where they might be struggling over a particular point in the curriculum.
Students can often learn as much from their peers as they do from their lecturer so group work such as face to face and online discussions can be particularly helpful.
Group assignments (either summative or formative), generally should be designed to assess the process of working in a group and how the group performed as a whole. Individual student contributions are difficult to assess in group work, however this mean they can be unpopular with students who can feel that some members of their group contribute more or less than others.
Technology can help support group work in a number of ways, for example:
⦿ Providing a platform where students can work together and share information. Moodle can be useful for both of these activities but free tools can also be used (e.g. Google docs) for group working.
⦿ Discussion forums in Moodle can be used to facilitate communication between students in groups to support project work or extend the classroom discussions.
⦿ Wikis can be used for collaborative writing projects where individual student contributions can also be assessed.
IN CONSTRUCTION. MORE CONTENT TO BE ADDED
Group project using a wiki used in various departments for group projects – Ian Roxan’s Taxipedia (which is a Wikipedia about tax law, with entries created by students in LL293)
The Institute for Interactive Media and Learning at the University of Technology Sydney have a useful guide to group work, and how to select the size of a group. They recommend that groups should be formed of 4 members for a variety of reasons. Find out more here:
Small group teaching from Manchester Metropolitan University:
Small Group Teaching Toolkit from the Higher Education Academy: