Education researchers have long considered the relative merits of individual and group learning. Brame and Biel (2015) note that while working alone can promote introspection and individualized education, working in groups can facilitate communication, friendship formation, and the developing of collaborative skills. Using Brame and Biel (2015) and Dobao (2012) as the sources, this discussion will contrast the pros and cons of individualized and group learning.
Due to its numerous advantages, individual study is a prevalent instructional method. For instance, students can complete assignments at their tempo, giving them adequate time to fathom each concept before moving on (Brame & Biel, 2015). Students work at their own pace, unimpeded by less capable colleagues. Students can think independently and uncover solutions to problems better when given autonomous assignments (Dobao, 2012). This may help students develop a sense of independence and responsibility that will benefit them inside and outside the classroom.
There are disadvantages associated with operating alone. Since they must complete their assignments independently, students miss out on the social benefits of group projects (Brame & Biel, 2015). A lack of interaction and a lack of desire and interest can lead to disengagement from the classroom and the material being taught. In addition, working alone eliminates opportunities for collaboration, a crucial talent for professional and social success (Dobao, 2012).
However, group labour is increasingly utilized as an educational method due to its numerous advantages. The capacity of students to collaborate and learn from one another is a significant advantage (Brame & Biel, 2015). Students may learn to collaborate and communicate more effectively, skills that will serve them well beyond the classroom. Because it fosters a sense of community and belonging among students, group work can be more engaging and motivating than individual work (Dobao, 2012).
Nonetheless, collective labour has its challenges. Ensuring that each student contributes the same amount to the project is a significant challenge (Brame & Biel, 2015). This can be challenging to accomplish because some students may be more dominant or less inclined to partake. Students must also organize their time and efforts to be successful with group assignments (Dobao, 2012). Having obligations outside of school could be a significant disadvantage for students.
Through collaboration, individual and group efforts can be effectively combined. (Brame & Biel, 2015) Teachers can foster students’ critical and innovative reasoning skills by assigning independent and collaborative tasks. Collectively, these strategies provide students with a well-rounded education and aid in developing skills that will be useful well beyond the classroom.
Peer evaluation and feedback is an additional methods for achieving a balance between individual and group efforts. Students can benefit from collaboration and social interaction even when working independently by sharing their work with colleagues and receiving feedback (Dobao, 2012). Teachers may also assign group projects emphasising personal accountability and requiring students to evaluate their progress (Brame & Biel, 2015). Thus, all students may have an equal opportunity to participate in group projects without sacrificing their benefits.
Additionally, the topic may influence the choice between individual and group assignments. History and science, which require extensive reading and investigation, may lend themselves better to independent study (Brame & Biel, 2015). Before students can effectively collaborate, they must develop their understanding of the material. However, group initiatives may be more effective in fields like art and design that require creative approaches to problem-solving and the generation of new ideas (Dobao, 2012). This is because group efforts, such as ideation and collaboration, yield more diverse outcomes.
The instructor’s role in fostering productive learning should be evaluated alongside the advantages and disadvantages of both individual and group efforts. According to Brame and Biel (2015), the efficacy of group work depends on various factors, including clear instructions, a supportive classroom environment, and the teacher’s skilful facilitation. Teachers should provide assignment details, such as due dates, expected levels of group participation, and the duties and responsibilities of each group member. Teachers should also foster a classroom atmosphere encouraging students to express their ideas and receive feedback. Instructors should act as facilitators, assisting students in attaining success while allowing them to assume responsibility for their work and generate solutions.
Equally important is the teacher’s role in encouraging productive, independent work. (Dobao, 2012) By providing explicit instructions, constructive feedback, and links to relevant materials, teachers can facilitate student learning. Teachers can cultivate students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills by designating assignments with multiple potential outcomes. Teachers can increase students’ enthusiasm and interest in a subject by allowing them greater control over the direction and execution of a project.
In conclusion, several factors, such as the topic, the desired learning objectives, and the requirements of the individual pupils, must be considered when choosing between individual and group work as learning methodologies. Individual initiatives can facilitate independent and individualized learning but can be isolating and offer few opportunities for students to collaborate. Similarly, group initiatives can potentially improve communication and collaboration skills, but they can take time and effort to organize. The most effective strategy would entail a combination of individual and group efforts, peer evaluation, and feedback. Individual and group projects significantly rely on the teacher’s participation in fostering effective learning and a supportive classroom environment.
Brame CJ and Biel R (2015). ‘Group work: using cooperative learning groups effectively’, Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching, accessed 28 May 2020 https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/setting-up-and-facilitating-group-work-using-cooperative-learning-groups-effectively/
Dobao AF (2012). ‘Collaborative writing tasks in the L2 classroom: Comparing group, pair, and individual work’, Journal of Second Language Writing, 21(1):40–58, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2011.12.002