The impact of group work on learning outcomes and skills development: some reflections from an Australian university

Ahmed, Rafiuddin (2008) The impact of group work on learning outcomes and skills development: some reflections from an Australian university. In: Proceedings of Intellectbase International Consortium (2) pp. 193-204. From: Intellectbase International Consortium, 28-30 May 2008, Nashville, NSW, Australia.

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Assessment practices in tertiary education sector have been widely researched in different countries. This Australian study examines the impact of an assessable group essay project on students' learning outcomes and skills development. In particular the study aims to investigate the impact of a group essay on students' expected grades in the assessment and their abilities to develop embedded skills through the group work. A questionnaire survey on 33 students in a third year undergraduate unit is used to explore and understand the reasons behind the students' expecting different grades from their group essay project; social loafing theory was also used to supplement the analysis of data. The data was analysed by a factor analysis and a discriminant analysis using SPSS statistical package. The study finds that there is no significant association between students' group efforts and their expected grades. The study also finds mixed perceptions about four dimensions of intrinsic learning outcomes, namely, perceptions about group work, perceptions about learning approaches, perceptions about teacher support, and perceptions about an essay versus an alternative assessment. Overall, the students perceived this group work as an insignificant exercise to improve their intrinsic learning outcomes or skills expected of them after the completion of the essay. Lessons learned from this study offers some explanations for the students' apparent disliking of a group work despite their preferences for improved grades through group work due to social loafing opportunities, and the instructor's incorrect belief that group work fosters students' skills development and prepares the students for their future jobs. The implications of this study for the students, the academics, and the university administrators are discussed followed by the some directions for further research.

Item ID: 7715
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
ISSN: 1940-1876
Keywords: group essay; social loafing theory; learing outcomes; skills development; factor analysis; discriminant analysis
Date Deposited: 04 May 2010 02:11
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1501 Accounting, Auditing and Accountability > 150105 Management Accounting @ 50%
13 EDUCATION > 1399 Other Education > 139999 Education not elsewhere classified @ 30%
13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130202 Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development @ 20%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified @ 75%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9405 Work and Institutional Development > 940501 Employment Patterns and Change @ 25%
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