40 Learning science in small groups
Students also identified the difficulties they faced in adopting the cooperative and collaborative approach. Most of the students who preferred the cooperative approach had experienced that some group members do not give enough effort. Also, the majority of students faced difficulty in distributing the task when more than one person liked to do the same task. One of the students commented as follows:
In many cases, more than one person likes to do the same job; it is really difficult to coordinate according to individual’s choice.
Hence the task lacks adequate information and the quality of the work correspondingly deteriorates. As a result, these students might pose lack of trust in their cohort that may lead to misunderstand other’s perspectives as suggested by Johnson and Johnson (1999).
As well, students who prefer collaborative approach, also face some difficulties. To name a few, these difficulties include overlapping information collected by different members, students’ tendency to copying others’ work, and lack of time. Some students stress that they are supposed to do lots of work in following the collaborative approach, which deteriorates the quality of work. One such response is as follows:
We have to search references for the entire assignment topic; it is plenty of work. So it is natural that we cannot explore the problem in depth.
The abovementioned difficulties in adapting collaborative approach might not lead students to be motivated intrinsically; also it might not persist with adversity and be unable to transfer knowledge and skills to other group members as suggested by previous research (e.g., Kapp, 2009; Pfaff & Huddleston, 2003).
Influencing Factors in Group Learning
This section deals with Group Composition, Group Norms, Group Task, Nature of the Group Task, Student Participation, and Teacher Guidance as the factors that influence group learning.
Group Composition. More than half of the students (58.4%) opine that the groups are usually formed by the mutual understanding between themselves and respective teachers. In some cases (29.5%), students are allowed to form groups by their own choice. Students were asked to mention their consideration when building groups by themselves. Their responses were summarized as in Table 4.
Student’s Consideration in Building Group Themselves
Having opportunity to take more responsibility
Having less responsibility
Having opportunity to apply own intellect
Having opportunity to choose task by themselves
Having opportunity to work independently
Sincere and friendly team mate
Data in Table 4 show, the highest portion of students (35.5%) likes to be involved in a group where they may have more opportunity to apply their intellect and expertise. As well, a considerable number of students (21.1%) prefer the group where they will have less