In this post, we will be explaining the various skills you can learn from group work. We will also be discussing the different factors that are important for an effective group process. Group work is important in many atmospheres, particularly for students as well as workplaces. Working in a group helps students learn better and also develop their soft skills and interpersonal skills.
What skills can you learn from group work?
Group work can teach students and employees many skills. The various benefits of group work are explained below.
It promotes better learning
Working in a group helps students learn better. The students come from various backgrounds and carry different skills. While collaborating in a group together, they tend to voice out their opinions and expose other members to a variety of opinions. Since there is a better diversity in the team, the knowledge sharing process is also more effective.
In a group, members not only learn concepts or topics for their own aims and goals. Since the whole group is working towards a common goal, the aim of learning is to share it. Once a concept is learnt, the group members pass it on to others. This process of learning and teaching not only improves knowledge retention, but also ensures the concept is properly understood.
It improves communication skills
Since group work needs plenty of communication and interaction, it teaches members better communication skills. Communication is not only about passing on information but also ensuring the message is well understood. Members who work in a group are exposed to people with varying intellects and backgrounds, and thus they learn to communicate with a purpose and more effectiveness.
It exposes strengths of the team members
Many students or employees are not well-aware of their strengths and talents. Group work exposes these undiscovered strengths. It also can be a helpful platform to try or test out strengths or talents. Of course this can only be attained in a highly collaborative group where feedback is honest and the environment is non-judgmental.
Team members can learn great organizational skills
Organizational skills are important for the purpose of project management and task management. While working in a group, members learn these organizational skills from a real-life perspective. Organizational skills consist of different skills such as communication, leadership, delegation, problem-solving, brainstorming, etc.
It improves leadership skills
Every group needs to have a leader. A leader’s role is not to steer the team forward, but to ensure high team engagement and democracy in the team. Natural born leaders find that group work can improve their existing skills. Individuals also learn new leadership skills while working in a team.
It is not only the leadership skills, but also the following skills that develop. Following skills are essential in every workplace. Team members need to be able to follow orders, understand and accept roles and responsibilities and also perform great task management. Group work can teach members not only to be great leaders but also great followers.
It teaches the importance of listening
Since communication is not only about passing on the message but also listening and understanding it. In group work, where communication is highly important, team members need to actively listen to commands, feedback, opinions, criticism, etc. By practice, members hone their listening skills effectively in a group setting.
It is not just passively listening to comments but also active listening. Active listening is when team members listen intently, absorb the message and let the speaker know that they have understood the message. It needs emotional intelligence, and non-verbal communication. With active listening, conflicts and misunderstandings can be reduced extensively.
It brings out many innovative ideas
Group work allows team members to share new ideas that otherwise will not be shared. Innovative and creative ideas are shared more in a collaborative group, where members feel safe and unjudged.
When there is effective collaboration, creativity and innovation also flow better. It is not just sharing your own ideas, but also improving them by taking the suggestions of others. It can also be putting many different ideas and thoughts together to create something entirely new.
Group work teaches responsibility
While working in a group, different members are assigned different roles. These roles can have various responsibilities for that particular individual. Since everyone is working towards a common goal, the level of responsibility is high. The standard or quality of the effort also tends to be high since the task is going to be delivered on a common platform.
It invokes empathy among team-members
Though empathy is an essential skill, it is not easily understood by everyone. This skill does not come by books or courses but is instead learnt through real-life experiences. In group settings, members are exposed to many different personality types and conflicts. Group work teaches the members empathetic skills while they learn to maneuver through different personas.
It increases the levels of awareness in the team
In a group setting, the knowledge sharing levels are high. It is not only knowledge that is shared but real-life issues and problems are brought to the table. Since the members come from various backgrounds, they tend to voice out issues that need real problem-solving. This kind of awareness can only happen in a team where diversity is understood and respected.
Self-confidence and self-esteem is boosted
When students or employees work in an effectively collaborative group, they know that their opinions are valued and respected. This positively affects their self-confidence and self-esteem. It also helps in further personal development as students put in more effort to bring new ideas to the table and participate more in the group.
What is important for effective group work?
For a group to be effective in its team cohesion and team productivity, there are certain factors that need to be in place. They are explained in the following list.
Open communication is the key factor
For a group to be effective, communication should be open between all the members. The communication style should also be democratic and honest. The better the communication, the better the team work. Having an open communication also ensures more transparency and a guarantee that all the members will be on the same page.
Continuous support is essential
If the team-members don’t feel supported, then the group work will not be so productive. However, when there is continuous support, the members are more motivated to achieve the goals. They will also be encouraged to achieve more than what is necessary, to go the extra mile for the team.
Trust and honesty should be present
If there is no trust between the members of a team, the levels of accountability and transparency will eventually fall. Group members need to be able to trust each other on the task management as well as their continual support. Still, trust is not something easily achieved. It should trickle down from the leadership. If the leader advocates trust, the other members will eventually follow.
For a group to be effective, every member should be clear about the goals. When there is proper goal-setting, the members understand the aim of the collaboration. They also understand the roles and responsibilities each of them carry. With clear set goals, team members feel more motivated and also have a structured guide to help them in their project management.
In this post, we have explained the various skills you can learn from group work. We also have discussed the different factors that are important for an effective group process, ranging from simple communication to goal-setting.
Frequently asked questions: (What skills can you learn from group work?)
What are the benefits of group learning?
Group learning can have many benefits for students. They are explained as follows:
It improves critical thinking abilities
Group learning can help students develop better thinking abilities. Since group members bring forth many different perspectives and mindsets, the problem or the concept can be looked at from several different angles.
Group learning improves learning
The learning process itself is greatly improved through group learning. Group learning not only teaches concepts in a more relatable manner, it also means students share more information with each other.
It improves communication skills
Group learning improves the communication skills of its members. While encouraging them to share opinions and ideas, it also highlights the need to listen properly. Group members learn tips and tricks to gather attention, increase energy levels and also to negotiate conflicts.
Diversity is understood better
In a group setting, members can have diverse backgrounds. They are encouraged to share their personal experiences and information with others. This improves the cultural awareness of other members. This helps the members build emotional intelligence and empathetic skills while reducing bias and judgement.
Is group work effective in the classroom?
Instructors and educators find that group work is a very effective teaching process. Through group work, students learn many different skills apart from the educational concept alone. Students who study in a collaborative setting tend to learn more actively, thus improving their knowledge retention. Since they are learning actively, the application of knowledge is also better.
Students also develop other important skills like communication and critical-thinking. Group work helps students make better decisions, equipping them with better problem-solving abilities. Those who work in a group tend to also show higher levels of motivation and self-confidence.
What are the roles in group work?
In a group setting, members may play many different roles. These roles vary the goals and tasks these individuals are allotted. Some of the roles are explained below.
The group leader who facilitates the team
There is no group without a leader. This person initiates and facilitates all the team processes. He/she clarifies the goals for the team and also assigns tasks and projects. They also ensure the project is completed at the right time with the right quality.
The monitor who observes and regulates the process
The team monitor carefully observes the on-goings in the team. They also conduct regular discussions and ensure high participation from all the team members. They may also provide valuable advice in times of conflicts or negotiations.
The note-taker who records minutes
This person records the processes through notes, summarizing discussions and ensuring the right message is passed on to everyone. They may also conduct regular presentations and keep track of the collaboration process so that the allocated time is carefully spent.
The devil’s advocate who regulates the quality
This team-member ensures the group is proceeding in a manner of high quality. They also steer the team away from group think, thus increasing innovation and creativity.
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