Collaborative Learning

This comes from “Reaching the Second Tier.” The author says to encourage or mandate team-based learning experiences.

I have never assigned grades to groups, even when we’ve worked in groups, because when I was assigned a group in school, the others in the group did squat and I did all the work. Then they got my grade.

I know that some teachers have tried to work this out better for the students and have assigned sections… but even when this has been done, some people don’t do their section. And the whole group got the grade.

I am not saying I don’t assign group work in my classes. I find that the students enjoy talking to each other and working with each other. So at least every two weeks we have small group work. I have the students do something together and then I either have them turn it in, for a participation grade, or they talk about it to the class, for a discussion grade.

When students have worked together on papers and homework, though, I have found that they end up plagiarizing a lot. I don’t know who the original learner is, but the answers will come back in identical formats or with one single change between them. Maybe one student will give less information while the others all give the same amount.

I want students to talk to each other and learn from each other. When I was having trouble learning a topic, I would find someone else who didn’t get it and study to teach them. It helped me a lot.
But I don’t like giving group grades on a large assignment because I know that all too often the work belongs to a single person but the group gets the grade.

I have even seen some teachers count off if the work is done by a single person. So, for instance, my mother was in a group. Four people were supposed to do something. Two did nothing. One did some. One did a lot. The total grade was based on the a lot + some – nothing. So the person who did some probably got a fair grade, but the people who did a lot or nothing were under or over rewarded.

I HATE that; even though my eldest says, “It’s how the world works.” Maybe it does, but it doesn’t have to work that way in my classroom.

Has anyone ever had a group grade that went well?

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