Group work can be an effective approach of motivating students, encouraging active learning and developing crucial critical thinking, decision making and communication skills. However, without careful planning and facilitation, it can result to frustrations both to the instructor as well as the students(Center for Teaching Excellence, 2011). Encouraging student participation in class can be a difficult endeavor for any teacher. As an instructor, there are several approaches Ms. Choo can adopt to encourage her students to participate in classroom group activities. These can broadly be classified into classroom environment, activities for different types of learners, motivation and individual level incentives.
To encourage better class participation, Ms. Choo can adopt individual level incentives, this can consist of a points system, or if permissible on occasion, some form of reward or prize. These may result to the students participating more in class activities. She can also always keep in mind participation when grading students, and should let the student be aware that they will be graded on participation. This will encourage the students to not participate in group activities but also on general classroom activities.
Ms. Choo can also incorporate various activities that would interest various types of learners. She can plan exercises that appeal and interest different types of students. This is essential in getting all the learners to participate. Students who perform considerably well on tests are normally quite shy, while the students who preform relatively low on assessments are inherent performers and relish role-play activities. Giving an array of activities that focus on kinesthetic, visual and auditory learner would result to better student participation. The more variability there is in a lesson, the more the students will learn. Incorporating a blend of worksheets, listening exercises and games as well as role plays would keep the students engaged and therefore encourage them to be more participative and involved in Ms. Choo’s class group activities.
Motivation can also work towards encouraging better group involvement. In classroom activities that involve teams, forming groups encourages competition which motivates students to strive to be the best performing group as well as work hard towards not letting their teammates down. A reassuring and friendly atmosphere can go a long way towards encouraging group involvement. It is also of the essence that Ms. Choo structure her lessons such that the students take turns when working in groups, this will force inactive and passive students to participate.
In conclusion, successful group work requires not only careful preparation and facilitation but also consistent and recurrent reflection and reassessment afterwards. After a class of group activities, a teacher should reflect on the group work process and note down what worked well and what should be changed in future lessons to make the exercise more effective, productive and lively.
Borich, G. D. (2011). Effective Teaching Methods: Research-Based Practice (7 ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Center for Teaching Excellence. (2011). Implementing group work in the classroom. Retrieved July 17, 2014, from University of Waterloo: Center for Teaching Excellence: https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/alternatives-lecturing/group-work/implementing-group-work-classroom
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