Group work in high school builds the generic skill of learning to work effectively as part of a team. Collaboration is a real life skill and up until now it’s most likely that their entire exposure to true collaboration has been on the sporting field, performance or through scouts. Learning intellectual collaboration takes time and support from not only the educators but you too.
Most students hate group work because intellectual collaboration is new to them. And to be honest in high school there is a bit of a juxtaposition in that there is still ranked assessment, an individual has to get the highest mark, so it sends a mixed message. Collaboration requires (1) the sharing of knowledge and (2) reflection and acceptance by the student that others may have knowledge that they don’t. You can see how ranked assessment doesn’t really foster this and the students know it so they don’t want to collaborate and if they do it’s only with their friends because they trust them.
From an educational perspective you can’t always have friends working with each other. Sure some groups work well together but usually the slackers all match up and that makes for an unproductive and sometimes disruptive group. Groups of similar people never learn anything new about themselves or new ways to solve problems. Collaboration works when there is a diversity of approaches in the group. So in many instances groups are assigned with purpose.
There are ways you can support your student in collaborative work.
Logistical support. Ensure they are getting to group meetings and take your turn in hosting them.
Flip the negativity. When they complain try re-framing. For example when they are complaining about someone’s idea flip it by saying something like “Well that sounds interesting to me, maybe we should find out about that.”.
Teach mediation. It does happen that a group can be put together that just isn’t going to work. If this is the case your student needs to speak privately with the teacher. The teacher is all ready across the situation and if the student’s concerns are valid they will advise the student on a course of action. You should not call the school or teacher, this is one for the student and teacher to collaborate on.
3 thoughts on “Group Work Builds the Skill of Collaboration”
Thanks for this post. Such an important message that relates to diversity and inclusion across all aspects of life – community cohesion, workplace, families – “Groups of similar people never learn anything new about themselves or new ways to solve problems. Collaboration works when there is a diversity of approaches in the group.”
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When I read the quote I was like, “wow that’s pretty good stuff I need to remember that” as I know you work on work place bullying. It was only later when I realized it was my own words reflected back at me that it made me grateful for the mirror. Well done to you.
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