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    Hochschuldidaktik ProfiLehre

    Conventional Group Work

    Taken alone, traditional group work offers valuable teaching and learning formats that enable students to expand their cognitive interaction with content, as well as to acquire important methodological knowledge and social skills. According to Bruffee, group work also contributes significantly to the integration of students into the knowledge community of the respective area of study (cf. Bruffee 1999, p. 5). However, the problem is that it is not uncommon for students to exhibit very negative attitudes about group work: Thus, learners cannot be assumed to be naturally motivated to cooperate with others. Cooperation is often experienced as time-consuming and unhelpful. This is particularly true when the knowledge gains of individuals are assessed in examinations. (cf. Kerres 2013, p. 397). Significant contributors to this dislike of group work are factors like social laziness – possibly linked to an unfair allocation of grades or the feeling of being exploited – or low group cohesion, and thus to group work that isn’t actually completed as a group. For Michaelsen and Knight, the latter point is key. According to them, this is the source of all the other problems students may encounter during group work. They are, accordingly, not problems per se, but “symptoms that are the natural consequence of the real problem” (Michaelsen/Knight 2002, p. 51).