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EXPLORING THE AUTHENTICITY OF GROUP WORK Jan Bamford, London Metropolitan University Helen Pokorny, University of Westminster with Dave Griffiths and Pamela.

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Presentation on theme: "EXPLORING THE AUTHENTICITY OF GROUP WORK Jan Bamford, London Metropolitan University Helen Pokorny, University of Westminster with Dave Griffiths and Pamela."— Presentation transcript:

1 EXPLORING THE AUTHENTICITY OF GROUP WORK Jan Bamford, London Metropolitan University Helen Pokorny, University of Westminster with Dave Griffiths and Pamela Pickford London Metropolitan University

2 The authenticity of group work assessment ‘ More than any other aspect of education, assessment embodies power relations between the institution and its students, with tutors as custodians of the institution’s rules and practices’ Reynolds & Trehan (2000:268). Authentic assessment ensures that what is assessed is what was intended to be learned assessments simulate, to the greatest possible extent, situations in which the knowledge being assessed would be used outside of the course, and assessment is used as a learning experience, rather than an afterthought

3 What were we trying to do? (a) with the team project (b) with the conference paper Method & Approach Mixed methods including drawing on self ethnographic approaches Praxis-orientated Examination of our own engagement with the group process in achieving the outcomes of the team project and production of a group paper.

4 Notes and transcripts of group meetings Group members’ weblogs (‘blogs’) – using ‘Airset’ (www.airset.com) Results of personal profiling tools/instruments (same and similar to those given to students) On-line survey of 66 final year students’ experiences of assessed group work. Data Sources Our reflections on the experience of working together.

5 The ‘Myths’ of Group Work 1.‘Clever’ students do not get sufficient credit for their work. 2.Unequal contributions from team members unfairly affect grades. 3.Lazy students can ‘hide’ from staff members. Notion of ‘freeloaders.’ 4.Group work slows down the learning process due to unproductive time e.g. meetings. 5.Group work impacts on other work due to the extra demands on student time. 6.Group composition unfairly affects one group over another, e.g. skills make-up, personality clashes (Livingstone and Lynch )

6 The learner must be the focus for the end result i.e.: the learning outcomes Possible inherent dangers for group work? “The learner is used to identify and to analyse the target situation needs. But then...the learner is discarded and the target situation analysis is allowed to determine the content of the course with little further reference to the learner…” ( Richards, J. C. and Rodgers T.S. (1986), Approaches and methods in language teaching: A description and analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press )

7 Group Formation… Staff Students Self – selecting Voluntary I was really surprised by how trepidatious was at that first meeting, I was really scared, that’s the truth…you were a complete unknown quantity. I was quite worried about meeting you, and I’d already met you… I felt vulnerable and I don’t mean anything against anybody in this group, it’s just that I didn’t know (X) very well and I didn’t know Y very well. I knew who you were, and obviously I knew Z but not in working together. So I think I felt quite vulnerable 83% Self-selecting groups 33% reported that the group ‘worked badly together’ 37% would ‘never want to work together again’ 19% would ‘like to work together again.’

8 Time Staff Huge issue Elected to postpone face-to- face meetings Deadlines slipped or were re- negotiated was a poor substitute Students 59% of students reported that ‘not everyone attended meetings regularly’ For 80% of these students this had been ‘a problem for the group’ 5% had undertaken ‘most of their meetings in class’ 56% preferred face-to-face meetings

9 Profiling Staff Students Belbin Myers Briggs FIROB ‘We did have a quick look but we didn’t look at it in a sort of bonding affirming way, we just really sneaked a look I felt quite vulnerable when I came to the group and that was enhanced when we did the profiles. I think that was the peak of my discomfort. 83% of students reported that profiling took place at the outset but was not referred to subsequently.

10 Participation Staff Students Differential contributions were integral feature of our team project and group paper. ‘I would say that would be one of the key things for me is that what I’ve discovered is that you can feel terribly guilty and still not do anything.’ The nature of the group paper task served to exclude and marginalise participation 58% of students did not feel that everyone had contributed equally.

11 Group Assessment Team Project Given task Compulsory participation Inflexibility Collaboration or collusion? Social interaction as a by- product Expectation of equal inputs Reward group perspective Public reflection Negotiable task Voluntary participation Flexibility Cooperation Centrality of social interaction Acceptance of differential inputs Reward individual perspective Private reflection

12 How appropriate is it to assess written group work? Assessment imposes an additional layer of complexity and constraint that can impede the benefits of group based learning. The outcome is dependant on many variables outside the individual student’s control: the emotional intelligence of all parties, time, social and cultural contexts. Students may or may not be ‘lazy’. Equally a lack of contribution may well be because of exclusion from the group through time pressures and/or the social and cultural dynamics of the group situation.

13 Conclusions What may be seen as the myths of group work (Livingstone and Lynch 2000) are the reality for many groups and that in promoting the process without clear regard to these issues we may be promoting an assessment process that militates against real team-building and collaborative learning Questioning the authenticity of group work assessment. What is the learning gained that justifies the complexity of the assessment process ? In whose interest is this?

14 References Belbin, R.M. (2003) Management Teams – Why They Succeed or Fail. (2 nd edition), Butterworth, Heinemann. Livingstone, D. & Lynch, K. (2000), ‘Group Project Work and Student- centred Active Learning: two different experiences’, Studies in Higher Education Vol 25, No.3, MBTI, Myers-Briggs and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are trademarks or registered trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States accessible at wodvDiNdQ wodvDiNdQ Schutz,W. (1958) FIRO:A Three-Dimensional Theory of Interpersonal Behaviour, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York.


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