Small Group Teaching

Posted on Mar 17, 2016

Small group teaching has become more popular as a means of encouraging student learning. While beneficial the tutor needs a different set of skills for those used in lecturing, and more pertinently, small group work is an often luxury many lecturers cannot afford.

In a discussion, where participation is assessed some students may not speak up in a group that begins to be get bigger than 10 participants and in addition tutors would find it hard to assess participation by individual students in groups with numbers greater than this. Regardless of the group size the learning environment should provide an opportunity for students to obtain a deep understanding of the material. Biggs (1989) notes that in order to gain a deeper learning the following four components are important:

Motivational context: intrinsic motivation, students need to see both learning goals and learning processes as relevant to them, to feel some ownership of course and subject. − Learner Activity: students need to be active not passive, deep learning is associated with doing rather than passively receiving. − Interaction with others: discussion with peers requires students to explain their thinking, this, in turn, can improve their thinking. − A well structured knowledge base: the starting point for new learning should be existing knowledge and experience. Learning programmes should have a clearly displayed structure and should relate to other knowledge and not presented in isolation.

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