As a tutor, you need to know how to manage groupwork effectively.

Group work should encourage peer learning and support and should be structured in a way that reflects the work of the group as a whole and the work of the individuals in the group.

In designing group work, explicit guidelines must be available and explained to all students before the commencement of groupwork. Guidelines should include:

  • Methods for determining groups, for example:

    • Random assignment
    • Resources personnel bring (e.g., specific complementary skills)
    • Self-selection (e.g., friends, type of task to be undertaken)
    • Size (e.g., four members is ideal as it ensures all contribute)

  • An explanation of the roles of group members, for example:

    • All members are interdependently linked (i.e. sink or swim together)
    • All members are expected to contribute (e.g., group members ‘sign off’ on their individual contributions)
    • All members are expected to promote each other’s learning (e.g., suggest ideas, help locate information, provide constructive feedback on ideas etc.).
    • Group members need to negotiate their roles and responsibilities within the group

  • The importance of time management, for example:

    • Group members discuss and allocate tasks and responsibilities to meet the required time frame
    • Contingencies are planned for in case a member/s is unable to complete their tasks in time
    • Group members regularly report to the group on progress to date

  • Information on how group processes and procedures should work, for example:

    • Group members provide feedback to each other, reflect on what they accomplished (content covered) and how they worked together as a group (process covered), negotiate goals for their next meeting, and celebrate their achievements

  • Details on how marks will be assigned, for example:

    • Normally if group members undertake subtasks of equal value they share a group mark.
    • Alternatively, a mark is allocated for a group presentation, based on all members contributing. This is followed by a piece of work that is completed individually (e.g., academic essay) for which the individual receives a separate mark.

    For additional information please see the Assessing group work page on this site.

  The Teaching Resources page on this   site provides links to more resources

Much of the content on this page is taken from Gillies: Cooperative learning, and Johnson & Johnson: Joining together