Mathematics Tuition - Benefits of Group Work

Especially in the context of private tuition, there is only one important reason for doing group work. Working in groups HELPS WITH THE LEARNING OF MATHEMATICS! Group work promotes student learning and achievement.

This page is to help you understand why I think group work is a good thing.

Boy alone - stood apart from the others

GROUP WORK.1: Better learning. Some people do prefer to work on their own. We can look after those individuals too. We can even look after them within a group situation or, if it is best for the student, do ‘one on one’ (one teacher, one student) work. However, it can be really difficult for a student on their own to sustain the level of energy, the undivided concentration. It can be too intense, exhausting even, and students need time to breath and absorb their learning.

Most people prefer to work in groups. Even with just two students, I find there are benefits and they feed off each other. For one thing, it means that they don’t have to do all the work themselves, as there is someone else sharing the load. They do have a little more time to breath and absorb.

Part of the story here is that they, the students working in a group, will each actually get more done. It is really exciting when I see the cross-pollination, with students helping each other, and I love it when I see individuals bringing their different strengths to the efforts of the team. One example of this is when working with students and you need to reactivate previous learning. The process of reviving what they already know is much quicker and broader with a group, and even just two students can bounce things off each other. In general, group work allows a greater variety of approaches to teaching, learning, and assessment. When learning takes place there is a shared sense of purpose and enjoyment for everyone. Peer pressure works in a positive way.

Focus One - concentrating on the front
Focus Two - concentrating on others

GROUP WORK.2: Life skills! We have already started to brush against the second biggest reason,
one which the importance of might be very easily underestimated. I have long argued that we spend too much time teaching curriculum, we try to cover too many topics, and that we should be better preparing students for the real world. Though it might be almost impossible to predict what the future world might look like, that does not mean that we should not try to prepare our students. We must do the best we can for our daughters and sons, and I believe that includes developing the capacity to work in groups.

When engaged in group work, students learn valuable life skills. By having the immediate feedback of their peers they learn about themselves, their strengths and weaknesses. They learn the importance of teamwork, of relationships, of listening, of sharing the load, being able to focus on the positives which others bring, they learn to express themselves, and to develop a ‘voice’, be heard in a way which does not happen very often, if at all, in most classrooms.

There is much more, please look at the internet, or the publication in the download section. Please let me just mention three other things.

In groups, students have the opportunity to learn from and to teach each other. I don’t think that there is any better test of understanding than when you are asked to explain something to someone else.

Group work can bring about a more relaxed and a more dynamically fun situation to learning.

Finally, it is a valuable life lesson in itself, that when I work with students we never lose sight of our purpose. There might be some distractions from working in groups, and at times we might diversify, but we are soon back on track, re-focused on our shared purpose of learning Mathematics. In itself, that ability to focus is also a great learning experience.

Concentrating on Grandma

Copyright 2014 - Richard Messenger

Copyright 2014 - Richard Messenger