There are many benefits to having students work together. It lets the student become the teacher. Working together lets students get their questions answered by someone who is not going to grade them. It lets students talk and get to know each other during class. Working in groups lets high school and middle school students rely on each other when they have to do something that is challenging.
Size of Groups
Group work should be based upon your seating chart. Two students working as a group works great. Four students is also a good number. Groups of three are not recommended. Two students will out vote the third and the third student can feel alienated when disagreements arise. You should change your seating chart often. This helps prevent one student from becoming too dependent on another student.
Group work cannot be used on all assignments. Independent work, tests and quizzes are necessary to be completed alone.
Student cheating and laziness can be remedied by including student participation in the rubric of each assignment. It is very important for group work to be done in class. Group projects assigned for outside of class time have a high probability of failure because of schedule conflicts. You can give students a questionnaire at the end of the project where they secretly evaluate their partners. This info can be useful in determining if a student did not participate during the project. Tell the students that they are not providing a participation grade and that you will determine if the information provided matches what you saw during class.
Example collaboration rubric questions using a rating scale of 1-5 are as follows:
How much did they work on their own part of the project?
How much did they help you / partners during class time?
How useful was their help in the decision making of the project?
How easy was it to work with the partner?
How often was he/she on task during class time?
* Disclaimer: Before implementing any ideas from this website, please first consult your principal to make sure they are in compliance with state laws, district and school procedures.