Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Please God, No Group Work!
The title of this post comes from a response to one of my midterm evaluations in which I ask students to allocate 10 points to three different activities that I do in most courses: lecture, discussion, and group work (I also sometimes include "other"). The allocation is supposed to correspond to how they would like to spend the class time. The particular response, "Please God, no group work!" actually came in a course in which we had not done any group work, so I don't believe it was in reaction to something in my course. In fact, I find that I receive many such comments and those who are most opposed to group work are usually my most motivated and brightest students. So the questions I want to throw out to others here at ISW are these: (1) What is the place of group work in the philosophy classroom? (2) In encouraging modern pedagogical values of teamwork and collaboration are we holding back or harming our brightest students to some degree? (3) If group work works well in your courses, what kinds of activities do you use (other than ice-breakers at the beginning of the course)? And finally (4) if there are undergraduate or graduate students reading this blog, what are your thoughts?