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Whether we learn better in teams or in the traditional method was an interesting topic covered in the second week’s readings. Although I am an introvert, I do still enjoy working in a team. I enjoy making new friends, learning about what they like to do, whilst also benefiting as often they have new ideas and/or can teach me new things. At the end of the day however I prefer to study by myself and certainly enjoy my alone time reading books or watching sport on TV. The question that I am pondering today is whether or not I learn better in a group or as an individual. Everybody is unique with their own methods for learning but I am unsure of where I fit in. Am I on the wrong side of the line? Do I need to change my ways?

I am currently a fourth year student studying a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Commerce conjoint. When I look at my grades from my time studying I see that my GPA is 5.5. I consider this to be an average GPA yet one that I am happy with. I know that I am not an all A+ student and instead my average mark is probably a B. Does not getting A’s on a regular basis mean that I am doing something wrong? Is this a sign that my learning style is wrong? As stated earlier I am an introvert and I do prefer to study alone. My study method involves typing out a set of notes, reading them as often as possible, writing out things I don’t know/don’t understand, and finally writing past exams to help get an understanding for the questions. I like this particular method as it means that once I have written it down I am able to then go over it as many times as I like in preparation for the exam. I am comfortable with my current preparation methods, but I would like to try achieve even higher grades for my final year of my undergraduate degree.

Studies on this topic have been conducted and the results show that being taught in small groups compared to being taught traditionally often leads to learning the information at a deeper level, retaining the information longer, are less likely to drop out of school, acquire greater communication and teamwork skills, and gain a better understanding of the environment in which they will be working as professionals. The article ‘Turning Student Groups into Effective Teams’ (2004) written by Barbara Oakley, Rebecca Brent, Richard M. Felder, and Imad Elhaj continues by discussing that by just being in a group doesn’t make people learn better as there is still a chance that groups will be dysfunctional. I may not get along with my team for one reason or another and therefore result in me learning very little. The studies however suggest that if my group does manage to be successful and are a functional unit, then there is a higher chance of me learning more than if I had done it alone. The functioning of my group and everybody performing to what is expected by everybody could be achieved through the use of a team expectations agreement and also continual evaluations of each member whilst the group is still together. It is through these forms that I may be able to achieve higher grades as studies show a functioning group may help me retain knowledge better.

In the past year I have taken several stage 3 papers that have introduced more group work assessments. Management 309 for example involved students getting placed into groups of 3 or 4 and creating a sustainable business. I do feel that working in groups can be beneficial. I certainly learnt a lot from my group members in Management 309 for example one of my group members had already done research into sustainability of various products and it was with this knowledge that we were able to compare products and come up with a good product that matched the brief for the assignment. It is from experiences like this that I think group work is valuable. For me personally however I feel as though some information goes in one ear and out the other when I am in group situations. This then requires me to write it down and study it till I have learnt it. This therefore proves that a mixture of both the cooperative and traditional approaches to learning suits my style of learning best. Tomorrow we are being put into groups which is where I can do my cooperative learning and if I have trouble with anything I can always take it home and learn how to do something (e.g. on MikesBikes). I am looking forward to meeting my group for the semester!

3 Comments

  1. I like how you have analysed your studying methods and whether or not it is providing the maximum benefit for you. You fulfill Daudelin's reflective learning model by reflecting on your current methods and experiences with studying and then forming new concepts about the effectiveness of working in groups. I hope you come back to this at the end of the semester to see if working in effective teams did or didn't help you to learn more than you would have on your own in this class.
    It seems as though you are utilising the higher levels of Bloom's taxonomy by analysing and comparing ideas of your own as well as from the reading. Your writing style is clear and easy to follow.

  2. You bring up an interesting point as a fellow introvert I can identify with, that being: do introverts have lower levels of learning than extroverts in a team? I would be interested to see whether that as an introvert we do not benefit from higher levels of learning in a team than compared with an extrovert in a similar team environment. Due to the tendency of introverts that we are more inclined to hold back and perhaps as a consequence, our levels of learning are hampered. Perhaps we need to develop strategies such like Peter talked about last Tuesday such as compensating for our introversion to gain the potential benefits which learning in teams a suggested to have. Moreover drawing from previous knowledge gained from your team experiences, this project offers the testing grounds to test this hypothesis... to compensate and to become more extroverted, then compare the level of knowledge you feel to have gained at the end of the paper. Of course it is difficult to quantify such qualitative things but the end grade for the course might be a good indication.

    I really liked your journal and it opens up a whole wide area for debate and experimentation.

  3. You need to explicitly indicate when you have copied material through the use of quotation marks and page numbers. If you are in any doubt as to how you should do that, arrange to see me. I would not what to find you have this type of problem in your summative learning journal.