A Guide for Students in the Multicultural University
7. Working in groups and teams Being forced into group work at university taught me so much about why I never want to work in groups again. (Comment from a graduate student) The argument often used in universities is that having students learn to work in groups reflects the real world of everyday life in the workplace. However, does it? Is group work and working in teams in a university environment the same as working in teams in the workplace? Research has long indicated that group interaction is a good way for students to learn (Nastasi and Clemens 1991; Slavin 1991; Johnson 1998). Barber (2003), in discussing non-English speaking students, comments on how teamwork is essential for understanding and emotional comfort. She identifies how teamwork helps students avoid embarrassment, and provides an opportunity to ask questions in a conducive environment which helps them to internalize the topic and relate it to their own situation at home. From a historical perspective, group work in universities was seen to be an extension of lecturing as a means of imparting knowledge. Many of the aims of group work were to enhance the lecture process. This led to the view that group work only existed to support the proper business of teaching, which was the formal lecture. Stenhouse (1972) and Bligh (1986) promulgated the view that group activity was to teach students to think and to engage with their own and others’ learning through the articulation of views. Group work can be seen as...
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