Promoting Interaction and Efficiency in Groupwork



Author(s) Patricia Xavier, Richard Butterfield, Clare Wood


Anybody else experience tears and tantrums in groupwork? The pedagogic basis for groupwork is sound – numerous studies show increased peer interaction promotes high quality learning. Students are also moving into a workplace where diverse teams are the norm and major employers monitor interaction in groups as part of their selection criteria. But are we setting groupwork tasks because it is pedagogically beneficial or are we simply using it as a method of dealing with increasing student numbers? What about when groupwork goes wrong? Breakdowns in communication, cultural barriers, personality conflicts, complaints of ‘free-riders’. Can we design the process and assessment of groupwork to help minimise these problems? This session is for you if you want to share groupwork experiences and best practice in your teaching, or want to get ideas for structuring groupwork for a positive learning experience.


Part 1: Session Outline & Kahoot survey (10 minutes) I will first give a quick introduction to the overall aim and structure of the session and runa s quick surey using Kahoot to see how many people use groupwork, for what reasons, how much the assess the process or the product of groupwork etc. Part 2: Experiences (15 minutes) Delegates will start grouped in tables of 5-6 with flipchart paper. Each group will be given two questions to answer, e.g. how do you group students for groupwork; if a group becomes dysfunctional, what intervention (if any) is appropriate? Each question will be given to at least two tables to promote discussion. The questions are designed to draw out what the common complaints and frustrations of groupwork are, and also report on what works well. Part 3: Student Experiences (5 minutes) Student views on groupwork will be shared (from Swansea and elsewhere) using video and powerpoint Part 4: Case Studies (15 minutes) A review of case studies of groupwork from the College of Engineering and elsewhere, introducing concepts of a) options for grouping students and assigning roles, b) setting the right expectations for groupwork, c) monitoring the process (through minute taking of group meetings, for example), d) peer review of participation. This section of the session will introduce best practise from around the world. Full references will be provided to all delegates. Part 5: Application (15 minutes) Each group is given a project scenario (e.g. a Year 1 interdisciplinary module, an MSc nursing module) and are asked to discuss what structure or processes they could add to the design of the groupwork. A powerpoint of keywords and reminders will be visible for the delegates to draw upon for inspiration. Depending on time, a selection will be shared with the rest of the group.

Key Words

Groupwork, Team-based learning

Key Messages

Strategies for groupwork in diverse cohorts; managing the groupwork process



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s