Students who get frustrated with group work

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Peregrin5, Feb 28, 2017.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Feb 28, 2017

    I have a lot of group work structures in my classroom. Science is a collaborative activity, and I believe students learn more when they talk to each other and use the vocabulary and discuss ideas.

    However I have had a few students this year who all but self-destruct when they're required to work in groups. They want to do everything on their own, and rush ahead of the others. They don't want to speak to each other, or share their responses.

    One student was on an IEP and that kind of made sense that he was just anti-social, but another student was not on an IEP and I could see him getting more and more frustrated each time I asked him to work collaboratively with his group.

    The way my groups are structured are that each person has a role: reader (reads the questions and passages), manager (keeps everyone moving at a good pace), document control (makes sure everyone is working at the same pace and on the same question), or spokesperson (shares responses with others or me).

    I also have them split their handout down the middle, and do a quick-write of each question before coming together and coming to a consensus with the rest of the group as to what the answer is. The consensus needs to be written the same exact way for everyone in the group. I find I have to be strict with my group work procedures or one person will just complete the entire thing on their own and everyone else will copy with little to no discussion or learning happening. I believe my structures make group work as effective as they can be, but they seem to frustrate the "good" students who are used to just getting everything done on their own without having to work as a team to make sure everyone is learning and contributing. To them, they just want to race to the finish line.

    I feel bad, because these students do do well on their own without doing group work, but I think they would benefit from doing group work. I feel like the bad guy when a kid gets as frustrated as he did today to the point where he had to sit outside, and wouldn't talk to me (this is a sophomore!).

    Thoughts?
     
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  3. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    As a professional science is both collaborative and non-collaborative depending on the work and role. The advanced student isn't going to be learning a lot from those who are much below or from those who are wrong and stubborn. It is really frustrating for someone if someone else insists that their answer is right and they have the role of recorder. That forces the one who is right to either be marked down or fight constantly.

    Most often those collaborating in science in work are intellectually advanced and among similarly minded people rather than among those who are ignorant of the science they are working with.

    You want to emulate the future or make group work better, place intellectually and interest similar students together. The learning issue becomes that the group loses its teacher. It shouldn't be the role of the brightest to teach the rest. They are forced into a role they don't want.

    You haven't given me a good reason why you think it teaches them more to pull the others along. You did mention that the lower ones benefit, but do they really learn or does the higher student just pull up the grade of the other.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2017
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  4. msleep

    msleep Rookie

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    There is a whole segment of students who get marginalized when there is continuous group work. This group is called introverts. They are not shy and not anti-social. They learn best (not always though) by reflection and not discussion.

    By all means use group work. But excessive and misuse of group work only tells these students that the way they learn is wrong.

    In addition, if the group work is planned badly, then advanced students will become frustrated and end up doing all of the work or teaching the others. This only holds back these students.
     
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  5. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    I have found that otherwise good students can't work well in a group. Surprisingly, it is the CP level students who self destruct more easily, where the Honors students more frequently play to their strengths, finding common ground. In the CP groups, there are some students with inflated egos who think they should run the show, lazy students who are content to let others make decisions, and if you have ELLs or SPED students in the mix, well, that is like working with a loose cannon. Unless the group structure is very rigid, and there are finite ways to grade based on participation, I tend to use them sparingly. I have tried them with PBL, to mixed reviews, some more success with presentations where everyone has a function and well defined function, and found them most troublesome if the students want to work with other students of their own choosing. Being good friends seldom makes for a well balanced group that works efficiently. All you need is one prima dona to cause explosion or implosion. I, apparently, never got the mix just right. I never had problems with motivated introverts, per se, but more problems with the egotistical procrastinator who will throw the other group members under the bus to save face.
     
  6. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I've found that most of the students who dislike group work are those who work very well on their own, finish early, do quality work and don't require any help, and / or those, who have had bad experiences in the past doing all the work and the others just using them.

    Maybe you can do something where they're really forced by the nature of the assignment.
    For example:
    students, sitting in their regular seats are numbered 1,2,3. Each one gets a paper, with different assignments (3 different assignments, 1,2,3,). They complete it on their own within a time frame. Then they get into groups, each group with have a 1,2,3. They have to discuss their findings and answers, and then document their consensus on one worksheet. Everyone will have to participate for it to be complete since the worksheet draws information for each student and each one is responsible for their share.
    Of course a lot of work would have to go into creating such worksheets, but it is an idea.

    You can of course have all students who are numbered 1 sit together to complete the worksheet, and 2s and 3s, and then join different groups but then you still have the same problem students hating it. The first variation allows students to complete the work on their own and only work with a group for the final assignment.
     
  7. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    I do not think the students resisting collaboration are necessarily the smartest students, who feel like they are pulling along their group mates. I have a range of students resisting collaboration: students who just do not like their group mates, students who do not like to talk with new people; students who are very private and do not see the point of talking about their ideas. All of these attitudes are problems when it comes to working with other people.
     
  8. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    I also try to use group work and I encounter uncritical and blind resistance by some students.

    1. There are the students who have 1 friend in the school and will only work with their 1 friend and no one else.

    2. There are the students who won't work with another less popular and socially skilled student than themselves.

    3. There are the students who do not see the point in discussing ideas, but will only write or talk if it is immediately for a grade.

    4. There are the students who talk about non-academic subjects.

    5. I teach ESL students, so there are those that think speaking in English is too hard and will either speak in their native language or remain silent.

    I am emphasizing that students in groups need to talk with their partners, but some groups still stare at their computer screens and do not talk with each other. I am going to turn this into a graded event since there is no other reason they will consider valid to actually talk in English to one of their peers about an academic subject.
     
  9. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    I do not find the students who resist group work are necessarily the high achievers in the course or the ones who had some bad experience. To the contrary, I find some students have never done group work before and resist it because it is new and they do not understand (or want to understand) the point of group work. I am an introvert by nature, and I have never myself found anything difficult about doing group work. All it is is sharing one's ideas about the academic material with a peer. I do that all the time with my friends, in my papers, etc. I do not think introverts or high achievers should find group work counterproductive.
     
  10. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Collaboration is one of the Learning Skills that our students are evaluated on--and the one most have the greatest challenge with. Being able to collaborate with others is an important life skill and I expect my students to be able to work effectively in a variety of groupings that are self-selected or teacher-selected. That said, the vast majority of their collaboration is during daily class work or during the planning stage for an individual assignments.
     
  11. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Well the group in question are all of similar intellectual level. And there isn't a specific 'recorder'. They have to all write their own answers first, and then they have to write a consensus answer next to it, where they all agree on one answer. So looking at their pages I can see both their individual thinking, and the group-think.

    When there are differences in opinion, students are forced to support and back up their answers with evidence which is where group work in this context really becomes fruitful. They have to use critical thinking and reasoning and evaluate each others evidence to come to the best answers, and they have to all agree before writing anything down.

    This is where it can get frustrating for someone who is used to always getting the right answers but doesn't normally have to spend time backing up what they say, or having to go over everyone's answer when they just want to be done with the "worksheet". To them it might seem like a lot of wasted time from what they're used to: write down your answers, turn it in, and get a good grade. Instead its: write down your answers, share your answers, back up your answers with evidence, come to an agreement with a group, and write down the agreed upon answer, then move on to the next.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2017
  12. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I made it clear to this student and to other students that while they may feel they work and learn best through individual reflection, (first of all, research doesn't support this) they are still required to learn how to work well in groups, because that is how science is done, and what they will be required to do in nearly every job they work at in the future.

    My group work is not excessive, and I believe its structured to be the most effective that it can be. I think this is just an instance, where a student is resistant to group work because they just want to "complete the worksheet" and not actually discuss or elaborate on their thoughts.

    I fully understand being an introvert (I am one), and I often HATE working in groups. But I am forced to find ways to work with people that I often don't get along with very well, and refusing to do so would probably cost me my job.
     
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  13. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I think group work is important for fostering social skills beyond just the "content" of a class, and I commend you for integrating this into your science classes. However, I also feel there should be a balance between collaborative and independent work, so that all students have a chance to work in the way that works for them. Group work is a struggle for many students for many different reasons, but that doesn't mean we should give up and abandon it!
     
  14. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    A well designed assignment should already require evidence to back up an answer to most questions. I don't understand why it wouldn't be required for all answers.
     
  15. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Again, if you are trying to mimic science in the work world, group by ability.

    Also, I believe you may be over applying research results beyond its intended situation. Collaborating with those who know nothing or very little will not help someone learn more or easier. It will take time away from their ability to use knowledgeable resources to learn more.
     
  16. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Because writing down the evidence and having to support your claims and evaluate the evidence of others is very different. Also academic discourse has proven to increase gains in learning by multiple studies.
     
  17. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Again, I don't group by ability, but if I did, this group would already be grouped by ability. They are all about the same level.
     
  18. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I apologize. I took your comment regarding "good" students to mean higher in ability because they are able to complete the work quickly and accurately. What differentiates your "good" students from the ones without this designation. If the difference is behavior it makes sense why capable students don't want to do group work. If not, what did you mean by "good"?
     
  19. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Why are they frustrated? Are they finding they are wrong or that they have to constantly refute others answers rather than justify their own.

    Sure I agree some of this is good for students but it seems students get a lot of group work because so many teachers do it and the problems are the same all the time and they rarely get better.
     
  20. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I think your definition of "good" is what I was thinking of. I was only making an observation that my students who tend to do well in class regardless of what we do (the "good" students) are the ones I have to be on top of more when doing group work. They tend to fall into just working on it independently if I'm not going around and actually grading them on participation. I just have to remind them a bit more than the other students. And this would happen in a group full of just "good" students. It's not because they have to carry other students. They just don't like to discuss and talk to each other.
     
  21. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    See, I don't actually think they're getting a lot of group work in other classes. I think the reason they are struggling with it is because they're used to just being given worksheet after worksheet, and they complete it on their quickly and correctly, and get the grade. This is different from what they're used to. Group work is more work and involves more steps.
     

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