Whether it is in school, at work, or elsewhere, many of us secretly shutter at the suggestion of working in a group. This reaction likely stems from a collection of less than pleasant memories of group work past. You might recall incidents of Tom the Talker who could never stay on task, Dick the Dictator who gave no one else a say, or Harry the Hopeless who contributed next to nothing to the project. While I will be the first to agree with you that working in a group can be difficult at times, two heads are better than one!Studies have shown that collaborative learning enhances critical thinking. Click To Tweet
Excellent critical thinking being one of the most sought-after skills by employers today, I think this fact affords group work some credit. But how does collaborative learning positively affect critical thinking? Let’s discuss. A study published in the widely recognized Journal of Technology Education (JTE) provides some insight.
In the JTE study, researchers used a critical thinking assessment to compare the critical thinking performance of students who learned in a group and students who learned individually. The group learners scored notably higher on the assessment than the individual learners. In an attempt to gain a better understanding of these results, the group learners were asked to reflect upon their collaborative learning experience.
From the group learners’ open-ended responses, researchers were able to identify the reason for this correlation between collaborative learning and improved critical thinking. The students who learned in groups reported having felt that they were given a more thorough understanding of the material than they would have gotten as an individual learner. This greater understanding was achieved through the pooled knowledge, experience, feedback, and perspectives of the group members. Thereupon, the stage was better set for critical thinking.
So when you find yourself faced with group work in the future, do not to let any Tom, Dick, or Harry hold you back from reaping the critical thinking benefits of collaborative learning. Because, remember, two heads are better than one!
For a collaborative learning environment in which to begin enhancing your critical thinking skills, check out Pearson’s Critical Thinking University.
About the Author: Melanie Welsh is a Marketing Intern at Pearson TalentLens. She has an Associate of Arts Degree in Business Administration and is currently working on a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and Marketing at Delaware Valley College. Connect with her on LinkedIn to learn more about her experience and goals.