Although most educators now recognize that the instructional paradigm has transitioned from an instructor-centered model featuring lecture as the primary means of delivering content, to a more student-center model featuring active learning to promote increased student engagement; old habits are hard to break. While we may intuitively understand why it is important for students to work collaboratively, it is often hard to find time and space in a course where students can collaborate or work in groups.

In a post to the online blog, The Teaching Professor titled, Five Things Students Can Learn through Group Work, Dr. Maryellen Weimer, PhD reminds us of five things that students can learn by working in well constructed group activities:Students working in a group.

  1. They can learn content, as in master the material.
  2. They master the content at those deeper levels we equate with understanding.
  3. They can learn how groups function productively.
  4. They can learn why groups make better decisions than individuals.
  5. They can learn how to work with others.

Working in groups collaboratively is a critical skill students must learn. It is the way much of the real world works today. For more information on creating and working with student teams check out the following self-paced module created by the Schreyer Institute at Penn State. It was designed for Penn State faculty but the information is available to all.

Source:  Weimer, M. (2013, March 20). Five Things Students Can Learn through Group Work | Faculty Focus. Effective Teaching Strategies for the College Classroom | Faculty Focus. Retrieved May 3, 2013, from