Friday, January 11, 2013

Group Work

The reality of teaching a chemistry laboratory is that for reasons of economy and sound pedagogical principles, group work, in smaller and larger groups, is fairly common. Part of my job in assessing student work is often noting in my records if a student in a group is a leader, follower or floater. What I had not perceived was a probably sub-conscious selection process that distributed the "super students" among the groups with the weakest students in the hopes that their example would inspire. A false hope. Indeed, just this last semester I had a "super student" come to me and ask to work alone not in a group because "no matter what group you put me in my mark will be lower than if I worked alone". I explained the pedagogical theory and that it was a required component of the course that would be factored into her subjective evaluation. Honestly, she narrowed her eyes and in white-lipped fury told me that she thought I was being unreasonable. She was my first super-student-home-schooled-mark-lawyer. Why do I feel this is just the beginning of a new demographic?

Just 16 years to retirement I am at my career Wednesday.

Anyway, Betty is a cool little comic that occasionally has some material relevent to education and last week the series was on group work. There is some truth here.









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For a while it was all about research and then it was all about teaching and now it's all about trying to find a balance while teaching at a small liberal arts and science university.