For students to get the most out of group learning, they need to work cooperatively with the same group for a period of time to solve complex problems. Getting the “right” balance of people in teams is very important. Heterogeneous groups provide a mix of resources for better quality work and help students develop social skills and awareness of diversity. Heterogeneity may mean building groups consisting of people with different perspectives, talents, or identities such as technological abilities, different years in college, age, or family background. Your outcomes will help you prioritize the different qualities that are important in your groups.
- Groups can be different sizes, depending on the task. Scientific and mathematical problem solving groups are best small, around 3. Groups who brainstorm and benefit from a variety of perspectives need 4-6 students.
- Some instructors assign roles to students such as contributor, collaborator, communicator, challenger etc. If you do this make sure the roles change so each student gets a chance to develop each of these skills.
- Students should not form their own long-term groups. Doing this only reinforces existing cliques, encourages discussion of extracurricular activities and can influence peer performance evaluations.
- Ideal group duration depends on the task. Long term assignments build group loyalty but changing groups every few weeks means they get to work with and know more members of the class.
- Learn more about assigning roles