Group work is another student engagement technique that can promote participation. It offers collaboration, sharing of skills, experiences, and knowledge in addition to effective peer-to-peer instruction. But, when weak links exist within the group, dynamics become a problem and are often difficult to manage, especially if students don’t have the tools to do so.
I like the idea of empowering groups to manage ‘free-riders’ independently by equipping them with the tools so that they can take ownership and leadership of their group. The foundation for group work plays a significant role in the success of the learning opportunity. Group work activity needs to be prefaced by establishing: project goals, ground rules for participation, consequences for not contributing, timelines, assigned tasks for each member and a method for self/peer assessment.
The following article identifies the impact on group performance when there is a weak link among the team as well as some advice on how groups can manage the situation.