Collaboration – week 26 – Activity 2

In our group inquiry in week 23 and 24, we set about pulling our work together to finalise our presentation. As a team, we complement each other well. We all bring our own set of skills to the table and where one person is weak the others make up the shortfall. In theory, we all have a piece of the puzzle together we make a full picture. The challenge to our collaboration was in the size of the group. Inevitably it was two vs one when it came to decisions and this left someone feeling outnumbered. As there were many issues to be resolved, paragraphs to be trimmed, rewording and ultimately half the information to be slashed we were all feeling a little downtrodden.

In some respects this was demotivating as the value of the work was not always recognised and when you put your heart and soul into your work and it is left on the cutting room floor this can be devastating. I felt empathy for my teammate when we needed to cut a whole section of her research because it just didn’t address the research questions but the shoe was on the other foot when I had a whole three slides removed for the same reason. We just had to look at the greater good and accept majority rules with dignity. On the upside, decisions are made quickly and when you ultimately have the same goal in sight majority rules gets things done and in on time

What I come away with is a clear understanding of the impact of group sizes. Three is great if you need to get things done but you must understand that there is the potential for one person to feel left out, especially if there are strong bonds between two in the team. Research says 5 is an effective number for a working group and less than that there can be skill deficits which can impact on effectiveness. The advantage of the smaller group is the ease of communication channels that are more difficult in larger teams.

After personally experiencing collaborating in a group I am keenly aware of the need to monitor the group dynamics and how these impact on individuals. Allowing students to choose their groups and then being aware of how the team evolves will ensure all the members are supported in their learning. Students with low status are more likely to be overlooked or inhibited, unlike their higher status peers who have more opportunities to contribute. Ha Le et al (2018).

Ha Le, Jeroen Janssen & Theo Wubbels (2018) Collaborative learning practices: teacher and student perceived obstacles to effective student collaboration, Cambridge Journal of Education, 48:1, 103-122, DOI: 10.1080/0305764X.2016.1259389

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