With the implementation of the KBSM, group work has become a more common feature
of school work. Students used to be evaluated solely on their individual
performance through tests and assignments. Now students are asked to work
together on group projects, and marks are given based on their group
performance. What are the advantages and disadvantages of group work?
underpinning of group work is that students can pool together their resources
and help one another. There is specialization of labor. A member of the group
may be good at leading discussions. Another may be good at gathering information
from libraries and other sources. A third may be good at writing utilized for
the benefit of all. Compare this with individual assignments. One person has to
handle the task from the beginning to the end: from planning to writing the
report. When the job is divided up among the group members, the workload is
shared. The quality of the work would be better because of the sharing of ideas.
Group work is beneficial for the character development of students. The marks
given for a group project is for the whole group. This makes the group members
accountable for doing their part in the project. They work together for the
common good of the whole group. In this way, they cannot be selfish. When
students do individual work, they tend to be very competitive. Should they have
any new idea or extra sources of information, they would keep them to
themselves. In group work, students have to share what they have. In the process
of working together on a group project, students learn to cooperate with one
another. This attitude prepares students for working life whereby they have to
work together with their colleagues as a team.
The concept of group work is definitely beneficial but not all the benefits
can be reaped due to the human factor involved. Some group members want a free
ride. They let others do the work and do not contribute at all. Or they submit
slipshod work and other members have to redo their work for them, thus wasting
time and effort. Very soon, they would be left out of the discussions. The
cordiality which exists at the beginning is lost. Group members who have been
working hard feel that it is unfair for all of them to get the same marks when
some are not contributing at all. It takes a good leader to manage the members
to see that they do their part in the group project.
Sometimes much time is wasted in group discussions. Group members forget the
purpose of their meetings and start to talk about other things. As a result they
do not achieve much. They go on to do the tasks delegated to them without
consulting the others. This happens when the leader cannot direct the discussion
effectively. The group still manages to submit a group report, but the report is
usually badly organized with poor linkage between the different parts of the
report. As expected, they get low marks for their group project.
Group work is beneficial for students' academic and personal growth when the
group members look beyond their individual interests to the group goal.
Willingness to work towards the group goal ensures effective functioning of a