PSYC 400 Chapter 6: Small Group Learning

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29 Dec 2020
Department
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Professor
Week 6: Small Group Learning
Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups (Woolley et al., 2010)
G emerges from correlations among people’s performance on wide variety of cognitive tasks
c: explains group performance on wide variety of cognitive tasks; group collective intelligence
o Not strongly correlated with average/maximum individual intelligence of group members
o Strongly correlated with: average social sensitivity of group members; equality in
distribution of conversational turn-taking; proportion of females in group
Female aspect largely mediated by social sensitivity women scored higher
o Depends on composition of group and on factors that emerge from how members interact
Unknown whether c can predict long-term effectiveness, also seems to be easier to raise
intelligence of a group than an individual
When three heads are better than two (Wiley & Jensen, 2006)
Assumption that each group member brings to the task a slightly different set of task-relevant
knowledge and skills, especially if members possess different backgrounds
Looked at effects of group size and heterogeneity in math skills on collaborative problem solving
Triads demonstrated better reasoning and problem solving than dyads and singletons
o Solved problems in fewer trials, more effective in equation selection, better at monitoring
redundancy of solution attempts, better able to take advantage of group heterogeneity
Both members needed math skill for dyads to be effective, having one member with math skill
resulted in effective triad
Specific advantages conferred in triads, may be optimal group size when critical evaluation and
reasoning required for task
o Especially when triads heterogenous in relevant skills for task
Triads overall engaged in better monitoring, evaluation and higher quality reasoning processes in
proposing solution attempts
Effects of small group learning on undergraduates in science, mathematics, engineering, technology
(Springer et al., 1999)
Culture for STEM shouldn’t be competitive but cooperative scientists often not in isolated
positions and more-so in collaboration to some extent with others
Small group learning has various benefits motivation for doing meta-analysis to inform
education and policy for undergraduate STEM students
o Elaboration, discussion, inadequate reasoning will lead to reflection of learning
Various forms of small group learning effective in promoting greater academic achievement,
more favourable attitudes toward learning, increased persistence through STEM courses
o Large effects support widespread implementation of small group learning in
undergraduate STEM courses
Why and how do undergraduates study in groups? (McCabe & Lummis, 2018)
Students engage in at least one group study session per semester; feel more motivated by group
but prefer individual study
When examining reasons for group study most frequent that professors/peers encouraged it
Group strategies practice problems, discussion, quizzing/testing, questioning, flashcards
Group strategies correlated with GPA: mnemonics, flashcards, distributed study
o Advanced students tend to use discussion-based strategies, lower-level more likely to
report content-driven strategies i.e. quizzing/testing, flashcards
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