Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Formation and Composition of Students Groups as a Teaching Methodology
by Kelton, Alan J., Ph.D., New York University, 2019, 131; 13426072
Abstract (Summary)

Research on the "why" of collaborative learning is fairly extensive for a disciplinary focus that is comparatively young. Research on one critical aspect of collaborative learning, group work, has focused more on group functionality once they are together, as opposed to determining the most pedagogically sound method for forming the groups and determining their composition. The formation and composition of groups in a learning environment presents unique challenges. Structured as a phenomenological study, this study was not designed or intended to produce generalized solutions, it was designed to see what could be learned from the lived experience of seven full-time, tenured or tenure-track faculty teaching an undergraduate class and utilizing group work.

Group work is an established part of the educational experience and considered a critical component of a collaborative learning model (Hoadley, 2010; Slavin & Cooper, 1999; Strijbos & Weinberger, 2010; Webb, 1982; Webb, Troper, & Fall, 1995; Yeh, 2010). Although learning collaboratively promotes "higher achievement than competitive and individualistic learning situations" (Johnson, Johnson, & Stanne, 1986, p. 383), it can also create more problems than its use might solve (Johnson & Johnson, 1999; Linn & Burbules, 1993).

Even though some of the benefits of effective and functional group work have been documented, the formation and composition, and support of student groups, is often wrought with complicated and time-consuming problems. Problems will always vary, but some of the more common examples include: the group member who does not do his/her share (or any) of the work; general resistance by students to working in groups; or pairing group members who do not have appropriate skills or work styles to complete the learning objective.

There are many things to consider when determining if group work is the appropriate pedagogical approach. This research is predicated on the understanding that the instructor has already determined that group work is the best pedagogical approach for the assignment, project, or class in question.

Although there are some fundamental differences between working in groups or teams in-person versus online, the location of the group work was treated as another variable in the decision-making process of the instruction leader. Technology used by the instructor for the group formation and composition process is discussed briefly here, but the focus of this study was not about how instructors implemented their decisions, but why they made those decisions in the first place.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hoadley, Christopher
Commitee: Matuk, Camillia F., Stage, Frances K.
School: New York University
Department: Administration, Leadership, and Technology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 77/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Instructional Design, Pedagogy, Education
Keywords: Collaborative learning, Reflective practice, Social constructivism, Teaching methodology
Publication Number: 13426072
ISBN: 978-0-438-86324-8
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