Some arguments in favor of group learning are:

  • Social. By learning in a group, kids also train their social ability.
  • Naturalist. Kids naturally learn about others, themselves, society, the world, languages and many other practical matters.
  • Pedagogic. Group learning favors confronting ideas, training argumentation, playing games, peer training and helping.

We, humans, learn best by borrowing knowledge from one another. Knowledge is an endless good, borrowing from it removes nothing whereas it alters and reorganizes our own knowledge[1]. Meta-analysis shows that for a task, learning is better when conducted in a group, it favors collaboration, confronting ideas and point of view, helping each other[2].

Therefore, group learning seems a powerful idea however it is cognitively expensive. For example, if a task is better conducted by one person, executing the task in group induces an additional cost[3]. Moreover, to optimize learning, the group composition should be adapted to the task. For example, a group of two is very suited for peer learning, one will learn from the help of the second, and the second will perfect his/her knowledge[4].

One way to overcome the additional cognitive expense of working in group is to propose a sub-task script. Given a task, the teacher proposes a script with a list of sub-tasks to conduct and its assignment to each member of the group. The learner directly concentrates on his sub-task. The downside of this approach is to remove the co-construction level of the group organization.

Dynabook implication

To help the teacher in work group organization, the Dynabook could come with a dedicated tool to write a script to organize the group tasks. Each member of the group will receive the script on his own Dynabook, with additional information as a relevant sub-task. Each member would report back his progress to the other members and teacher's Dynabooks.

Any opinion on the topic? If so leave a comment for further reflection.

Thanks to Michael Davis for his editing.

Notes

[1] J. Sweller, In academe, what is learned, and how it is learned? Current directions in psychological science, 24, 2015

[2] M.T. Chi, R. Wylie, The ICAP framework: linking cognitive engagement to active learning outcomes, Educational psychologist, 2014

[3] F. Kirschner, United brains for complex training. A cognitive load approach to collaborative learning efficiency (Phd thesis), 2009

[4] A. Tricot, L'innovation pédagogique, Retz, 2017