Group work assignments: intervention of the teacher or academic is a common dilemma, particularly if or when any involvement should occur. Even though one aspect of learning in groups is about working with others, problems can arise where students need to be supported by staff to sort difficulties. Ten academics were interviewed to determine how they intervened when facilitating group work assignments. Different degrees and approaches for intervention were revealed. Read more Burdett (2007).
What should you think about when encouraging contact, cooperation and reciprocity in your teaching
Answer Yes to these
Teaching philosophy: I believe in student-centred learning. I think about the contribution I am making to the development of students skills and capabilities for their future professional lives.
Pedagogies: Approaches for encouraging contact, cooperation and reciprocity which characteristically emphasize constructivist learning suit my teaching.
Curriculum: There are specific learning outcomes I wish my students to have in my course.
Tools for learning: I can motivate my students to adopt contact, cooperation and reciprocity strategies. I can incorporate strategies that encourage contact, cooperation and reciprocity into my course.
Commitment: I can identify a ‘contact, cooperation and reciprocity’ champion who will support innovative practice.
Why is it important?
Encouraging contact between students and with academic staff can help students develop a sense of belonging and inspire personal motivation to study as well as enhance their learning (Bryson & Hand, 2007; van der Meer, 2009). First year students in particular need to be supported as they become familiar with their new learning and teaching environment if they are to be engaged and stick with the their studies (van der Meer, 2009). Student engagement at university is not just about high quality learning but also involves socio-cultural aspects of belonging and contact with peers and staff (Bryson & Hand, 2007; Krause & Coates, 2008). Students say they particularly value personal contact from teaching staff which is probably even more crucial to practice in the current situation of massification in higher education (Slate, LaPrairie, Schulte & Onwuegbuzie, 2009; van der Meer, 2009).
What is it and how does it support learning? What does recent research say?
Recent research found that attending to the socio-cultural aspects of students’ experiences at university is more likely to enhance their engagement (Bryson & Hand, 2007). Going to university involves more than just engaging in deep learning and meeting learning objectives. It is about belonging to a learning community and developing a sense of identity which can be enhanced through contact with other students and teaching staff (Krause & Coates, 2008). Feeling connected and belonging to a learning community contributes to students having high degrees of engagement and commitment to their learning (Krause & Coates, 2008).
Collaborative learning or active learning in groups can benefit students’ individual learning for many reasons. Most importantly perhaps, they are challenged to consider differences, learn from each other and construct new knowledge (van der Meer, 2009). Cooperative learning can also contribute to enhanced academic performance. In a recent small scale study, thoughtfully established small groups where students worked with each other in and out of class on problem solving activities had a positive effect on overall learning and performance (Yamarik, 2007).