What are the benefits of small group learning in a collaborative environment?
In this blogpost, we shall be looking at the different benefits of small group learning in a collaborative environment. We shall also examine the disadvantages or weak points of collaborative learning to understand the topic better. Collaborative learning is being used in all levels of education as it has been proved to be highly beneficial for the learning process.
What are the benefits of small group learning in a collaborative environment?
The most important benefits of small group learning a collaborative environment are:
- There is better academic achievement
- There is more understanding of diversity
- It leads to development of interpersonal skills
- The students show active participation
- There are more opportunities for feedback
- It builds confidence and self-esteem
- Students can experience personalized learning
Small group learning is the solution to the problem of flooding classrooms where students participate less and get distracted more. When it is implemented in a collaborative environment, small group learning brings many other benefits to the classroom. In this manner, students learn a lot more than just academic concepts. The important benefits are described in detail here:
There is better academic achievement
Through small group learning in a collaborative environment, the students learn and grasp academic concepts better. They also retain information for longer periods of time as the topics and theories are critically discussed and scrutinized. This leads to better academic achievement and also higher scores for the students.
There is more understanding of diversity
Small groups create a safe zone between the students where they can open up and discuss their personal lives and cultural backgrounds. In this manner, the students understand diversity and are more sensitized to different ethnicities and religious beliefs. This helps break stereotypes and eliminates bias.
It leads to development of interpersonal skills
Students can also develop their interpersonal skills of clear communication, active listening, showing empathy and giving positive feedback through learning in small groups. The lesser number of members in the group can also help students gain valuable feedback and sharpen their social skills that can be used in their employment opportunities later.
The students show active participation
The amount of participation and student engagement in small groups is much higher as compared to large ones. When there is active participation, there is also active learning. The students are also highly involved in the planning and coordination of tasks, enabling them to take more ownership and show more responsibility.
There are more opportunities for feedback
Feedback is necessary for further development of a student’s skills. Through feedback, students understand if they’re doing things the right way. They also are more aware of the areas that they need to improve in. While large groups may hinder feedback, small groups engage in more constructive and positive feedback.
It builds confidence and self-esteem
Self-confidence and self-esteem can also be built through small group learning. When they are actively engaged in the working process of the group, students can use their strengths and abilities for a useful purpose and can actually see their progress. In this manner, their self-confidence greatly improves, enabling them to take up difficult challenges easily.
Students can experience personalized learning
Personalized or individualized learning cannot occur in a traditional classroom due to the large strength of the students. However, individualized learning can lead to better information retention and finer practical application of knowledge.
In addition to all these benefits, small group learning in a collaborative environment can also bring other advantages like:
Learning conflict-resolution and negotiation skills
While working with others, conflicts and misunderstandings are bound to happen. It is when students experience these conflicts and negotiate their way around them do they learn actual conflict-resolution skills and behaviors. Small group learning further increases the need for conflict-resolution due to the small size of the group, thus improving the learning outcomes.
Students experience more satisfaction
Students are more satisfied in small group learning not only because of the closeness of the group, but also because of the amount of effort that goes into the learning process. Since students need to invest a lot of time and effort in order to learn concepts together, they have a higher sense of responsibility, leading to better personal satisfaction as the goals are achieved.
There are more resources to use
The members of the group have access to more resources like knowledge, tools and even other professionals, when they work in a small group. Since the group has a higher number of resources, they can get their work done faster and save more time. These resources can also be useful in their future careers or for developing their networks.
Instructors have lesser workloads
Educators and instructors always have large workloads with very less amounts of time to finish them. Through small group learning, instructors have a lesser number of assignments to evaluate and assess. They can also change the way they perform evaluations in a way that it brings forth a more individualized process.
Disadvantages of collaborative learning
While collaborative learning can be highly advantageous for both students and teachers, it can also have many negative or weak points. Let’s look at a few of these disadvantages:
There might be too many leaders
While groups have leaders, collaborative learning might lead to too many students trying to take over the group. Even if a formal leader has been set for the group, there may be instances when informal leaders also arise. This can lead to conflicts and disruptions in the flow of the group, which can become obstacles in the learning process.
Interpersonal skills need to be developed
Interpersonal skills or team work skills are required by every participant in the collaborative learning. However, not all students are equipped with these skills. Without these skills, the communication between students might falter and also lead to misunderstandings in the group. Thus, groups may require additional time and training to develop these skills.
Different personality types may be uncomfortable
While group work may be great for those students who are extroverted and social in nature, it is not the same for those who are shy or introverted. The group might seem hostile to these students who then will struggle to communicate and voice their opinions to others. For this purpose, many classrooms use online collaborative tools to help shy students express themselves comfortably.
The learning might not be synergized
The group definitely tries to be on the same page, learning wise. However, this might not always happen or might not be possible. This is because the speed or pace of learning of every student might differ. The style of learning is also different for all the students. If the group is not patient and supportive enough, it might face many dropouts because of this.
In this blogpost, we have looked at the different benefits of small group learning in a collaborative environment. We have also examined the disadvantages or weak points of collaborative learning in order to understand the topic better.
Frequently asked questions: (What are the benefits of small group learning in a collaborative environment
What is the advantage of learning together?
The most important advantage of learning together, is the high effectiveness of the learning process. There is not only more sharing of information between students, but also better grasping of concepts and increased retention of knowledge. Through learning together, we can also develop our social and interpersonal skills, further leading to personal development.
What are the benefits of group discussion?
Group discussion can have several benefits for the whole classroom. Some of these important benefits are:
It enriches the classroom atmosphere
Through group decisions, the classroom atmosphere becomes richer and diverse. Through healthy discussions, students can give multiple opinions and perspectives on a topic. The topic or concept can be viewed from many angles and points of view. In this manner, the learning process becomes fun and highly engaging.
It develops critical-thinking and problem-solving skills
Critical-thinking and problem-solving skills can be easily developed during group discussions. Through this way, students can deeply probe and analyze an issue and also gain valuable feedback in the process. These skills can also help in making the group more resilient and stronger as a unit.
It improves oral communication skills
Oral communication skills can also be developed through the process of group discussions. Oral communication means dispensing the message in a clear and concise manner and also giving instructions in an understandable manner. Oral communication also refers to the skill of respectfully disagreeing or giving constructive criticism.
It helps in building negotiation and compromising skills
Since group discussions can lead to differences of opinion and frequent conflicts, negotiation skills are highly important. Students learn and practice these skills when they want to get their point across. They may also learn to compromise and adjust with one another to maintain the group harmony.
It brings out an open-minded attitude
Since groups are composed of different people with diverse opinions and perspectives, it is important to keep an open-minded attitude. Open-mindedness also helps in bringing out new ideas and suggestions from the team members. It can further generate innovative products and designs, which conventional modes of thinking would have overlooked.
It teaches the importance of listening
While it is important to voice your opinions and ideas in a group, it is also important to listen. Listening is in fact even more important and has great advantages in professional as well as personal lives. While participating in group discussions, students can learn to listen to others, thus helping their understanding and their perception of topics.
What are 2 benefits when working with small groups?
When we work in small groups, there can be multiple benefits. The two most important benefits are:
It can improve the performance
When there are small groups, the team members have individual roles and tasks for which they are solely responsible. The roles are also delegated with the personas and working styles of the team members in mind. The leader also ensures proper clarity of those very roles. In this manner, the performance of the group can greatly be increased.
It can bring more creativity
Creativity and innovation is also high in small groups. However, it also depends on the number of members in the group. If the number is too few then creativity can be diminished due to groupthink. Still, creativity levels are high in small groups as there is more ease and comfort in discussing and generating new ideas and opinions.
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