Group Work Practice in Hospitality, Leisure, Sports and Tourism Degree Courses

aboriginalconspiracyΠολεοδομικά Έργα

16 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 10 μήνες)

169 εμφανίσεις


Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
1

of
43


Group Work
Practice

in
Hospitality, Leisure, Sports and Tourism Degree Courses



Elwyn Cox and Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce


University of Winchester

Faculty of Business, Law and Sport







CONTENTS


1.

Introduction

2.

Methodology

3.

Literature Review

4.

The Staff Perspective

5.

The Student Perspective

6.

Discussion

7.

References

8.

Appendices






Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
2

of
43


1.
Introduction



This paper reviews

the use of group work in
hospitality, leisure, sports and tourism (HLST)
courses
,
exploring
the perspectives of
academics
and students on the purpose, the merits and the
shortcomings of contemporary group work practice

in this field
.



The aim of this research
is

to
enhance
practitioners’

understanding of group work
practice in the
HLST

subject area.


Th
e
paper

includes

a literature review of research on the use of group work

in a wide range of
contexts published since 2000, analysing trends and establishing central themes of contemporary
practice, with a particular focus on the use of

group work

in
HLST degree courses

and on research
with students studying
HLST courses
.


This
is

complemented with
qualitative
data from research with staff in
relevant departments
at
three different universities
as well as four

student focus groups.



Background

and rationale

Numerous

studies

on

group work from a variety of perspectives

have been carried out and published
in a range of academic journals
.
Although previous research has confirmed positive aspects of group
work, such as an enhanced educati
onal experience through deeper forms of learning (Hernandez,
2002), there is also much evidence of negative aspects of group work (Aggarwal & O’Brien, 2008),
particularly from a student perspective.
Chapman, Meuter, Toy and Wright (2010) found
significant
differences between students' opinions of their experiences with group work and the perceptions of
the lecturers who set the group assignments.


M
any studies are speci
fic to particular subject areas
.
For example,
D’Souza &

Wood (2003) focus on
the needs of first
-
year mathematics students; Leveson (1999) looks at the transitional problems of
first
-
year accounting undergraduates and further work with accounting students was conducted by
Tempone & Martin (1999) and Kennedy & D
ull (2008); Alpay & Ireson (2006) studied self
-
theories of
intelligence amongst engineering students that included their attitudes to group work.



In general, there is not a strong body of research that relates specifically to the use of group work in
HLS
T subjects
,

with the exception

of
a small number of
more recently
published
papers.
One
example is a

study
by Cumming (2010)
,

confirming
the importance of group management strategies
for developing positive group working experiences on the basis of researc
h with sports students.
Tideswell (2008) conducted research with third year travel and tourism students that noted strong
initial reservations to a group
-
based created entrepreneurial assignment and makes practical
suggestions to provide ideas for other ac
ademics who may engage in similar work.

Work

by Zwaal
and Otting (2010) that centred on the use of Problem Based Learning (PBL) for
hospitality students
noted the importance of group dynamics as a key factor to success. The importance of tutor action
in di
recting the group, rather than simply in task
-
oriented interventions was highlighted.


Th
is

dearth
of research

on group work

in the
Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism

subject areas

is
disappointing
,

as
group work is used widely in most HLST programmes within a Higher Education
context and since
the majority of students within these sectors expect to be involved in team or
group working in their

future

careers
. This paper aims to contribute to the body of

research on the
subject of group work in the HLST areas, and to stimulate further research.




Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
3

of
43


2.
Methodology


This study
is based on

qualitative research with academic staff and students from different HLST
programmes.


2.1
.
R
esearch

with academic staff


This part of the study address
ed

the following questions:




What do academics consider the purpose,
benefits

and
problems

of group work?



What choices do academics make regarding the structural aspects of group work, such as
group size, group selection, composition of the group work grade, contribution of group
work grade to module grade
etc.
?

Why are these choices made?


In order to
establish the perspective of academic staff in the HLST subjects on group work practice in
their field, ten individual staff members from three different institutions, including the Universities
of Winchester, Bournemouth and Southampton, were interviewed
by the two researchers, using a
short questionnaire

(see Appendix C)
. Five of these academics were based in Sports Departments
and five in Events, Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism Departments.


In addition, two focus groups on the subject of group work we
re held as part of a symposium of
sixteen academics in the HLST field, with participants from the Universities of Winchester,
Gloucestershire and Birmingham.


Interviews and focus groups were recorded, transcribed and then coded using Atlas
-
ti, a qualitat
ive
data analysis software package.



2.2. Student research


This part of the study address
ed

the following questions:




What do HLST students consider the purpose,
benefits
and
problems

of group work?



What are HLST students’ preferences regarding the
structural aspects of group work, such as
group size, group selection, composition of the group work grade, contribution of group
work grade to module grade etc. How do these factures affect the perceived advantages and
disadvantages of group work?


Four f
ocus groups with students
were

arranged to discuss students’ experiences with and views on
group work.
Students
were

recruited from the Sports Management and Events Management
Programmes at the University of Winchester.
Groups

consist
ed

of
4
-
8 student volu
nteers, who
had
participated in a group work assignment in the previous academic year (2010/11).


In addition,
some
data drawn from a

semi
-
structured questionnaire, developed for previous
research on group work in the faculty,
from

two cohorts of Year 2 s
tudents
on Events and Sports
programmes was included.



Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
4

of
43


3.
Literature r
eview


The use of group work as a
pedagogical tool and as a
means of producing both formative and
summative assessments is widespread and well
-
established in Higher Education. The
benefits have
been described for decades
,

as have been the problems. Further research has helped identify the
source of
such problems

giving

theoretical and practical advice to counter them or prevent them
happening in the first place. There may be some va
riation dependent upon the nature of the course
of study (on
-
line or in attendance) or the subject studied (mathematics, law, business or hospitality
as examples).


Different authors have found a variety of benefits that vary from deep
-
learning to reduced
marking
loads (Monk
-
Turner and Payne, 2005). Some have categorised them broadly while other sources
show extensive and more specific lists. Exam
ples of both are summarised in T
able 1 shown below.
Certain benefits may fall into several categories, for examp
le positive self
-
esteem may help in
education, socially or ultimately in employment.



Table 1: Benefits to students from working in groups


Educational Benefits


A variety of personalities and experiences can bring different
views to bear upon the task
in hand

(Parsons & Drew, 1996)

It provides a framework and encourages critical reflection of
both self and peers

(Livingstone & Lynch, 2000)

The exercise can focus learning onto a particular topic

(Cohn, 1999)

A creative synergy can be found; students
gain from a bi
-
lateral
process; a collective efficacy is obtained

(Livingstone & Lynch, 2000)
(LaLopa, Jacobs & Countryman,
1999) (Bandura, 1997)

Sharing the workload can facilitate greater levels of combined
learning and shared understanding

(Chang and M
ao, 1999)
(McCorkle, Reardon, Alexander,
Kling, Harris & Iyer, 1999)

Greater retention and understanding

(Boud et al., 1999)



Social Benefits


This can be simply widening a circle of acquaintances or finding
others with like interests

(Tanenbaum

et al., 1998)

Students learn to seek help from their peers

(Herz
-
Lakorawitz, Kirkus & Miller
1992)

Development of social and personal skills

(Rossin & Hyland, 2003)



Personal Development Benefits


Critical thinking benefits

(Monk
-
Turner & Payne,
2005)

Development of interpersonal and team
-
working skills

(Kolb, 1998)

Students can practice leadership skills

(Johnson & Johnson, 1990)

Collaborative learning builds self
-
esteem

(Johnson & Johnson, 1989)



Employability Benefits


Skill needed in
working life such as communication, team
-
building and conflict resolution can be practised

(Parsons & Drew, 1996)

Students can carry out tasks that are more representative of
the workplace

(McCorkle et al., 1999)




Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
5

of
43



Although
T
able 1 looks at group work benefits from the perspective of the student there can be
gains for
academic

staff that use group instead of in
dividual assessment. Tideswell

(
2005
)

observed
that a number of researchers found group work was being used ‘as an ass
essment method in tertiary
institutions due in part to the pressure of growing class sizes and stretched teaching resources’.


Furthermore the resultant skills for the participants can benefit business or society as a whole.
Amongst the specific skills no
te
d on the Graduate Prospects web
site (the commercial arm of the
charity Higher Education Careers Service Unit) are ‘team
-
working’, ‘interpersonal skills’, ‘oral
communication’ and ‘leadersh
ip’. A further people skill of ‘customer o
rientation


is deconstru
cted as
‘friendly, caring, diplomatic’ (www.prospects.ac.uk). These same employability skills are identified in
a report produced by the SCRE Centre of the University of Glasgow for the Edge Foundation
(Edge/SCRE Centre, 2011). There is a clear overlap bet
ween these skills and those that group work
has the potential to provide. Their relevance is underlined by the research of Harvey et al, which
showed that employers in the UK value generic skills more highly than disciplinary
-
based
understanding (Harvey, M
oon, & Geall with Bower, 1997).


Whether or not skills and employability should
, or indeed could,

be the central rationale for
education is a wider debate (Morley, 2001; Atkins, 1999) that is not a consideration within the scope
of this report.


Support f
or group or collaborative work is not universal and man
y report weaknesses or problems

as

summarised in
Table 2 below.


Table
2: Problems associated with group work


Formation difficulties


Who should set up the groups?

(Millis & Cottell, 1998; Roberts &
McInnerney, 2007)

Distributing the work load evenly

(Morris & Hayes, 1997)

What is the correct group size?

(Kriflik, 2006; Feitchner & Davis,
1984
-
5)



Procedural difficulties


Informal leaders may influence how the group measure
collective efficacy

(Pescosolido, 2001)

There is a lack of basic group
-
working skills

(Roberts & McInnerney, 2007)

Time management and logistical difficulties

(Morris & Hayes, 1997; Parsons &
Drew, 1996; Burkill, 1997)

Inexperience at handling and resolving conflict

(
Colbeck, Campbell & Bjorklund,
2000)



Perceptual difficulties


High individual self
-
efficacy is different from collective
efficacy

(Bandura, 1997)

Negative student reaction if they feel unsupported by tutor

(Dyball, Reid, Ross & Schoch, 2007)

Previous bad experiences impact negatively on future work

(Forrest & Miller, 2003)

Cooperative learning valued less than traditional lecture

(Machemer & Crawford, 2007)

Mistaken belief that mixed culture groups perform poorly

(De Vita, 2002)



Training

difficulties


Staff may not have been specifically trained

(Colbeck et al., 2000)


Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
6

of
43


Students are not made familiar with the advantages of group
work or the rationale for using it instead of other methods

(Springer, Stanne & Donovan, 1999;
Hendry, Heinric
h, Lyon, Barratt,
Simpson, Hyde, Gonsalkorale, Hyde,
& Mgaieth, 2005)



Personal difficulties


Differences in interests and abilities

愠摯ub汥⁥Tg敤
-
s睯牤

⡍onk
-
呵牮敲e☠P慹a攬e2005)

Stronger students antipathy to ‘free riders’

⡍捋楮cey ☠
䝲慨am
-
䉵硴onⰠH993)

Personality conflicts impact upon the group’s effectiveness

⡍o牲r猠s⁈慹敳Ⱐ1997)



Grading difficulties


Should grading be group or individual? What should be
included within the grading framework?

(Gibbs, 1992)




Whilst
accepting that there are potential problems that need addressing, a number of writers
prescribe actions that will pre
-
empt problems or help overcome them

if they are already manifested.



These
guidelines
may be related to the composition, size or
characteristics of the group members.

Other suggestions may relate to the need to provide a clear understanding of what is expected from
staff and students and what benefits can accrue.

Good communication can raise the achievable level
of understanding.

St
aff training and clear guidelines are needed to successfully run group or team
-
based ass
ignments (Colbeck et al., 2000)
.
Consideration must be given beforehand to the question of
how a grade
will
be decided


group or individual (Millis & Cottell,

1998; Mi
chaelson et al., 2002).

The decision from such consideration must be cl
ear, justified and communicated.
Following
on from

above is
the consideration of

how involved students

should

be in setting up the groups and
apportioning grades, if at all
.




4. The
s
taff p
erspective


This chapter summarise
s

the key findings from research with academic staff. A more extensive
analysis

of the research data is included in Appendix A.


Interviews with ten academics
teach
ing

within the HLST sector at the universities of Bournemouth,
Southampton and Winchester were
carried out, transcribed,
coded and analysed.


Codes were
organised in three categories:



The first category (
B) include
d

the benefits and positive aspects of group

work, including
the
reasons given for why group work is
used.




The
second

category, description of practice (D), included descriptions of the processes and
organisation, the “How to”, of group work.



The
third

category includ
ed

all references to the different problems (P) that occur

in group
work
, and the negative aspects of group work.



Table 3

below

shows all codes used and the number of comments in each code category.






Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
7

of
43



Table 3
:

All codes and number of comments


CODE

NO. OF COMMENTS



CATEGORY
B
:
BENEFITS OF

GROUP WORK


B
: Pedagogy

45

B
:
Develop Transferable Skills

45

B
:
Employability

35

B
:
Suitability for subject

18

B
:
Peer learning

16

B
:
Less teaching/marking

15

B
:
Students get to know each other

11

B
:
Lecturer gets to know students

5

B
:
Enables students to self
-
reflect

5

B
:
Required by programme or module

3

B
:
Produces higher quality work

2

B
:
Positive feedback from students

2

B
:
Resources

1



CATEGORY D: DESCRIPTION OF PRACTICE


D: Marking

56

D: Preparation and management of students

49

D: Group Formation

44

D: Conflict resolution

38

D: Formative versus summative

32

D: Feedback

23

D: Preparation of staff

19

D: Formal documentation

16

D: Size of groups

12

D: Students documenting group
work

9

D: Amount of group work

9

D: Online groups

3



CATEGORY P: PROBLEMS WITH GROUP WORK


P: Social Loafing

34

P: Fairness of marking

19

P: Conflicts

18

P: Lecturer time and effort

13

P: Grades pulled down

12

P: Marginalised students

10

P:
Group formation

9

P: Lack of real learning

5

P: Practicalities

5

P: Negative feedback from students

2






Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
8

of
43


The
table shows
which
areas were commented
on

most commonly and these
reflect

what has
already been noted within the existing literature. There appear to be no substantive differences
between the experiences of ac
ademics within the HLST subject areas

compared to
other subjects
.


In the Benefits of

G
roup
W
ork

category

the
pedagogical benefits of group work and the role it plays
in developing transferable skills attracted the largest number of comments, followed by its
contribution to employability.


With
in

Description of Practice, a consideration of how group work is set
an
d managed
, the most
widely commented themes were marking of group work, followed by

the preparation and
management of
students,
group formation

and conflict resolution.
Lecturers also commented widely
on the suitability of group work for

formative exercise
s

or summative assessment
.


In the
third category
of

Problems with Group Work
s
ocial loafing was the topic raised noticeably
more than any other. Linked to this is fairness of marking


does group work raise the mark of the
social loafer
,

while suppressin
g that of the harder working student?
Another widely discussed
theme was that of conflict within groups.


In many of the themes there was

a broad consensus

between lecturers
, but some areas
proved
more contentious. Whilst
authors in some published papers

have noted reduced marking as a
positive factor in times of increasing
workloads
, lecturers interviewed were opposed to the inclusion
of group work without a proper pedagogic rationale.
The pedagogical
benefits of

group work were

questioned by some, especi
ally in the case of specific sub
-
groups such as international students or
more
introverted students.

Lecturers felt that
while
group work had a place in all subject area
s

its
particular
value may be greater in some than others.


Having noted earlier that pedagogic considerations should be the justification for group work it was
still

commented by some that there was a saving in marking time, especially useful with large
cohorts that were becoming more common. Proponents of a sound

pedagogic reason for group
work observed that some colleagues did, in their opinions, look upon such work as simply expedient.
Further, they felt this lack of pedagogic principles would transfer to students who would also be
unclear of why they were engag
ing in group exercises. Several iterated that successful group work
may be more time consuming rather than less.


With regard to

staff

being
train
ed

for using group work with their students
,

or the use of formal
documentation to explain and support procedu
res
,

only
a

minority reported these issues in a
positive light.


If this is coupled with a lack of pedagogic engagement the likelihood of the typical
problems occurring must surely be high.

In the faculty that did have a formal group work policy,
academics

were overall positive. However, one lecturer expressed doubt whether all staff members
in the faculty were aware of it, and also raised the issue of visiting lecturers.


The lecturers interviewed felt that work had to be summative rather than formative to

encourage
student engagement. The review of literature showed that lack of skills or confidence, poor
understanding of what was required and how it benefits, fear of social loafing and marks perceived
as unfair may all build an antipathy to group work.







Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
9

of
43


5. The Student Perspective


This chapter summarises the key findings from research with students. A more extensive overview of
the research data is included in Appendix B
.
In addition,

some

data
extracted
from questionnaires
conducted
with two student
groups from Year 2 modules on the Sports

Science

and Events
Management programmes is included

below
.



The review of literature showed that lack of skills or confidence, poor understanding of what was
required and how it benefits, fear of social loafing an
d marks perceived as unfair may all build an
antipathy to grou
p work with students.


As
was shown in
Chapter

4, the Staff Perspective,

with regard to lecturers,

there is far from universal
agreement
amongst students
about why group work should be used
,

wit
h some questioning
whether

it has real value as a means of facilitating

learning. Although the majority opinion was firmly
that group work must have a sound pedagogic underpinning that underpinning might be the building
of transferable skills as part of th
e preparation for employment.


This section will bring together comments and opinions from both questionnaires
and then focus
groups
to compare
them
to the findings of the literature review and staff perspective. F
or students
the focus

regarding group wor
k

is
directed
towards the
impact of their mark for group work on
their
overall grade.


Student Questionnaires

Ten indicative questions used
in the student questionnaire are

sh
own with the results in a table
format

below
. The responses are shown against a L
ikert scale and as percentages of the number of
responses
,

to allow for evaluation across disparate group sizes.

The largest percentage response for
each question is shown highlighted for ease of comparison.


Table
4:

Second Year Sport Science Survey


Strongly
agree

Agree

Neither
agree or
disagree

Disagree

Strongly
disagree

1.

Group work allows me to develop useful transferable skills

30

60

10

0

0

2.

I feel that I would have received a better mark for individual
work

20

15

55

5

5

3.

Everybody in our group
put in a similar amount of time and
effort

5

37

0

42

16

4.

Overall, the group mark was fair

5

55

15

20

5

5.

I would rather do individual work than group work

35

5

50

10

0

6.

Our group was dragged down by one or more of its members

15

30

15

40

0

7.

We had one
member who dominated the group

10

20

40

30

0

8.

Some people found it difficult to understand what was
expected of us for this group work

5

40

25

30

0

9.

There were members of our group who profited from other
students’ work

10

45

40

25

0

10.

Each group member
should have a designated role

20

60

20

0

0



Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
10

of
43


Table 5:

Second Year Event Management Survey


Strongly
agree

Agree

Neither
agree or
disagree

Disagree

Strongly
disagree

1.

Group work allows me to develop useful transferable skills

24

67

6

3

0

2.

I feel that I
would have received a better mark for individual
work

24

6

55

12

3

3.

Everybody in our group put in a similar amount of time and
effort

12

30

15

36

7

4.

Overall, the group mark was fair

18

49

15

18

0

5.

I would rather do individual work than group work

18

21

34

21

6

6.

Our group was dragged down by one or more of its members

15

34

15

24

12

7.

We had one member who dominated the group

6

18

28

36

12

8.

Some people found it difficult to understand what was
expected of us for this group work

6

33

25

30

6

9.

There were
members of our group who profited from other
students’ work

15

37

12

30

0

10.

Each group member should have a designated role

18

52

27

3

0


When the two sets of responses are compared there are a number of similarities. For questions 1


5
the same category is the largest percentage response in each case, although there is some variation
in the actual percentage figure. The same pattern can be

noted for replies to questions 8


10.
However there is a significant difference in answers to 6 and 7, especially 6.



Question 1 has the biggest percentage agreeing that group work does allow transferable skills to be
developed. The figure for Sport Sc
ience (SS) is 60% and for Event Management (EM) 67%. This
acknowledgement is of a very positive aspect of group work.


However, this positive picture is not maintained. 35% (SS) and 30% (EM) agree or strongly agree that
they would have got a better mark f
or individual work. This compares with 10% and 15%
respectively who disagreed or strongly disagreed. For both groups the single biggest answer
category was indecisive; they neither agree nor disagree.


The biggest percentage disagreed that there was equity

of input from all group members with 40%
disagreeing in SS and 36% in EM. However, the second highest scoring response was to agree that
there was equal input, 30% for both SS and EM, so the dissatisfaction is far from universal.

Another positive correlation is noted in the response to question 4 where the largest percentage
agreed that the overall group mark was fair


55% for SS and 49% for EM. However a note of caution
must be sounded even here, as 25% of SS students disagreed o
r strongly disagreed, compared to
18% in EM who dissented. This means that one in four and one in six students may not be satisfied
with either group work
per se

or their specific experience of it. If these
percentages

were transferred
into a student satis
faction survey such as the NSS they m
ight

cause concern.


The areas where Sport Studies and Event Management move apart are with answers to questions 6
and 7. Question 6 asked if the group had been dragged down by one or more of its members. In SS
the bigg
est response was 40% who
disagreed
, while in EM it was 34% who
agreed
. This did seem to
be a question that polarised opinion as the next highest response was 30% in SS who
agreed

and
24% in EM who
agreed
.



Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
11

of
43


The idea of an individual dominating the group, b
ut not necessarily in a negative way, was explored
in question 7. The biggest percentage reply in SS was 40% who were neutral, neither agreeing nor
disagreeing. In EM it was 36% who disagreed that an individual had dominated. If the neutral and
disagree ca
tegories were combined they would be a very substantial majority; 70% in SS and 64% in
EM.


One overall observation is that a high percentage of students adopt a neutral stance in their
answers. In Sport Science 26% of the total responses were to neither a
gree nor disagree whilst the
figure for Event Management was 23%. What is also clear from the responses is that there is no
obvious single solution where there are as many who disagree as agree.


Student Focus Groups

Four focus groups with students from Sports and Events programmes at the University of
Winchester were carried out. The focus groups were recorded and recordings were transcribed,
coded and analysed. Table
6

below gives an overview of the themes discuss
ed
by students.



Table

6
: Student comments


all codes


CODE

NUMBER OF COMMENTS

CATEGORY

Marking and grades

56

Practice

Group Formation

33

Practice

Social loafing

30

Problems

Group Size

24

Practice

Skills Development

22

Reason

Involvement of lecturer

19

Practice

Practicalities

15

Problems

Employability

12

Reason

Suitability for task

10

Problem

Conflicts

10

Problems

Lecturer Convenience

9

Reason

Feedback

8

Practice

Peer learning

7

Reason

Formative

7

Reason

Getting to know others

6

Reason

Preparation of students

6

Practice

Suitability for different learning
styles

6

Reason

International students

2

Practice

Higher quality work

2

Reason


It can be quickly seen that the single most discussed point is that of marks achieved. Following this,
two high ranking
topics are those of group construction


formation and size of group. Sandwiched
between these in third position is the subject of social loafing. Marking and group formation were
also highly
-
ranked themes within the lecturer interviews, although group siz
e appears to be of more
concern to students than staff.


For students the concern was how marks are awarded, not simply what their final mark was. There
was support for the idea of the process being marked as well as the final presentation. Further,
studen
ts felt that presentation skills should not be a highly
-
weighted element of the marks

Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
12

of
43


compared to content and structure. In terms of what mark to give a group the preference was that
an individual element be included to reflect contribution. This may not b
e just a positive where extra
work is rewarded. Many students are concerned about the social loafer and would like them to
be
awarded

fewer marks because of their lack of input.


A wider gap exists in terms of the focus upon skills development and employability where staff gave
a higher weighting in terms of the comments made.


The problem of group conflicts is noted by both staff and students, but with staff raising it more
often

for comment than students do.


Pedagogy, which played a prominent role in lecturers’ responses, featured more indirectly in
students’ responses, for example in descriptions of peer learning and the suitability of group work
for particular tasks and for di
fferent learning styles.


Several students acknowledged that while they initially struggled with group work, over time they
both found it easier to do and also came to appreciate its value.


Many students felt that group work was carried out for the advan
tage of the lecturer in terms of
time saved for marking and in not having to lecture. This is very far
-
removed from what staff felt as
they required both a strong pedagogic rationale and also noted that it could actually take up more
time rather than less.


Although the practicalities of organising meetings with students who work or may live off campus
were noted by staff it was discussed more extensively by students.



6
. Discussion


S
taff interviews

and student focus groups

indicate

that group
-
based asses
sments

are
widely
used

on
HLST programmes
. However, there seems little consistency between institutions and sometimes
within institutions, as to an identified model of practice that will produce the best results. Both
aspects
, namely

widespread and variabl
e use
,

are

also

reflected
within the literature.


It is apparent that
universities
do
not consistently
invest

time and resource
s

to overcome known and
anticipated problems
with group work
and thereby ensure
positive outcomes.
One reason

for using
group
work

given
by staff

is to reduce w
orkload. Yet much of what is required
as preparation for
effective
group
working or to address problems as they arise is, in fact, time
-
consuming

for staff
.

T
hese elements of pre
paration

and intervention are
essential

in
ach
ieving good quality results and,
closely related,
higher levels of student satisfaction
.

In the increasingly competitive world of Higher
Education great importance is attached to the results of satisfaction statistics such as those for the
National Stud
ent Survey.


The question arises whether

group work
is used for summative
assessment
for the sake of
expediency.
More speculatively, there could be merit in ascertaining the academic validity and value
given to

summatively assessed

group
work
.
If the main
benefits of group work

relate to

the skills and
experience

students develop for their

future careers,
what are the implications for
assessed group
work in
HLST programmes
? Is group work credible

as a
rigorous
method of assessment?

What is the
status of gro
up work as an academic assessment method compared to traditional methods?



Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
13

of
43


As can be seen
from
reviewing both staff and student feedback the same themes
as
have been
reported in previous studies in different educational sectors are reflected. What is more
clearly
highlighted is the problem of finding an approach that fits a wide range of opinion
s
. That might apply
to apparently simple matters of construction such as group size as well as to more subtle matters of
pedagogy.

What is also shown is that student
s do not fully understand why group work is carried
out. Not all are certain exactly what is expected of them. Staff may not be trained specifically to
carry out group work and there may be no formal documentation or procedure
. Such lack of clarity
and und
erstanding might be central

in explaining the nervousness that students have in undertaking
summative

group assessments
. If so, a clear strategy is needed together with training and support
that might prevent problems initially or reduce their impact shoul
d they occur.


The use of group working contributing directly to grades is widespread, but not universal. An audit of
summative assessment methods at the University of Winchester carried out as part of this project
showed that there were a few departments
where
summatively assessed
group work was not
undertaken, although they were very much in the minority. There is some suggestion that the skills it
develops may be more relevant to students whose career path will typically involve much project
work

or team

work
.
If group work is widely considered beneficial to student skills development,
however,
what would be the reasons not to include it as part of a
ny

programme of study?


Many areas of interest for further research remain. Each one of the different themes discussed by
lecturers and students in this study warrants further research.
Little of the

published

research

on

group work assessment

investigates

more than one group or
cohort

and thereby allows for
comparisons
. Still less

research

is based on longitudinal
studies
, investigating over time

whether

views of
one cohort of students are

consistent
with subsequent

cohort
s

in the same subject and
using the same assessment exerci
se.



With this review of group work practice in HLST subjects the authors aimed to make a contribution
to the body of research on the subject of group work in the HLST areas, and to stimulate further
research.






Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
14

of
43


7.

References


Alpay, E. & Ireson, J.
(2006) Self
-
theories of intelligence of engineering students.
European

Journal of
Engineering Education
, 31: 2, 169
-
180


Aggarwal, P., & O’Brien, C. L. (2008).
Social loafing on group projects: Structural antecedents and

effect on student satisfaction.
Jou
rnal of Marketing Education,
Vol.
30
, No. 3
, 255
-
264.


Atkins, M. (1999) Oven
-
ready and self
-
basting: taking stock of employability skills.
Teaching in Higher
Education
,
4
(2), 267
-
280.


Bandura, A. (1997)
Self
-
efficacy: The exercise of control.

New York:
W.H. Freeman.


Boud, D., Cohen, R. & Sampson, J. (1999) Peer learning and assessment.
Assessment and Evaluation
in Higher Education
, 24 (4),
413
-
426.


Brocka, S.J., Rovegnob, I. and Oliver, K.L. (2009) The

influence of student status on student
interactions and experiences during a sport education unit.
Physical Education and Sport
Pedagogy
, Vol. 14, No. 4, p355

375


Burkill, S. (1997) Student empowerment through group work: A case study.
Journal of Geograp
hy in
Higher Education
,
21
(1), 89
-
94.


Chang, C. and S. Mao. (1999) The Effects of Students’ Cognitive Achievement When Using the
Cooperative Learning Method in Earth Science Classrooms.
School Science and

Mathematics,
99: 374

83.


Chapman
, H. (2006).
Towards effective group
-
work in nurse education
.
Nurse Education Today
, Vol.
26
,

No.

4, p298
-
303


Chapman
, K.J.; Meuter, M.; Toy, D.; Wright, L. (2006).
Can’t We Pick our Own Groups? The Influence
of Group Selection Method on Group Dynamics and Outcomes
.
Journal of Management
Educatio
n,
30
(4),
557
-
569


Chen, G., Donahue, L.

M., & Klimoski, R. J. (2004).
Training undergraduates to work in organ
izational
teams
.
Academy of Management Learning & Education, 3
, 27
-
40.


Cohn, C. L. (1999) Cooperative Learning in a Microeconomics Course.
College Teaching
,

47: 51

53.


Colbeck, C. L., S. E. Campbell, and S. A. Bjorkland. (2000) Grouping in the Dark.
Journal of Higher
Education
,

71 (1),

60

83.


Cumming
, J.

(2010) Student
-
initiated group management strategies for more effective and enjoyable

g
roup work experiences
.
Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education
, 9
(
2
)
,
31
-
45


Deeter
-
Schmelz
, D.R.;
Kennedy
, K.N.; Ramsey, R.P. (2002)
Enriching Our Under
standing of Student
Team Effectiveness
.
Journal of Marketing Education
, 24
(
2
)
, 114
-
124



Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
15

of
43


De Vita, G. (2002) Does Ass
essed Multicultural Group Work R
eally
P
ull UK Students'
Average D
own?
Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
,

27(2),

153
-
161.


Dommeyer
, Curt J. (2007)
Using the Diary Method to Deal With Social Loafers on the Group Projec
t:
Its Effects on Peer Evaluations, Group Behavior, and Attitudes
.

Journal of Marketing
Education
, 29
(
2
),
175
-
188


D'Souza, S. & Wood, L. (2003) Tertiary students' views about group work in mathematics.

International Education Research Conference, University of Auckland, Auckland, New

Zealand, pp. DSO03154
-
DSO03164


Dyball, M.C., Reid, A., Ross, P. & Schoch, H. (2007) Evaluating Assessed Groupwork in a Second
-
year
Management Accounting Subject,
Accountin
g Education
, 16:2, 145
-
162


Dyrud, M. A. (2001) Group Projects and Peer Review.
Business Communication Quarterly,
64 (4):
106
-
12


Ferrante
, C.J.;
Green
, S.G.;
Forster
, W.R. (2006).
Getting More out of Team Projects: Incentivizing
Leadership to Enhance Performance
.

Journal of Management Education
, 30
(6),
788
-
797


Feichtner, S. B. &

Davis, E. A. (1984

85) Why Some Groups Fail: A Survey of Students’ Experiences
with Learning Groups.
Organizational Behavior Teaching Review
,

9: 58

73.


Forrest, K. D. & Miller, R. L. (2003) Not Another Group Project: Why Good Teachers Should Care
about B
ad Group Experiences,
Teaching of Psychology
,

30: 244

6.


Gardner, B.S.; Korth, S.J. (1997)
.
Classroom Strategies That Facilitate Transfer of Learning
to the
Workplace.

Innovative Higher Education
, Fall

97, 22
(
1
)
, 45
-
60


Gibbs, G. (1992)
Assessing student centred courses
. Bristol, Technical and E
ducational Services


Harvey, L. Moon, S. and Geall, V. with Bower, R. (1997)
Graduates’ work:
organisation
change

and
students’ attributes
. Birmingham: Centre for Research into Quality together with the
Association of Graduate Recruiters


Hendry, G., Heinrich, P., Lyon, P., Barratt, A., Simpson, J., Hyde, S., Gonsalkorale, S., Hyde, M. and
Mgaieth, S. (2005) He
lping Students Understand their Learning Styles: Effects on study self
-
efficacy, preference for group work, and group climate.
Educational Psychology

25(4): 395
-
407.


Hernandez, S. A. (2002).Team learning in a marketing principles course: Cooperative structures that
facilitate active learning and higher level thinking.
Journal of Marketing Education,
24

(
1
) ,
73
-
85.


Hertz
-
Lazarowitz, R., Kirkus, V. & Miller, N. (1992)
An overview of the theoretical anatomy of
cooperation in the classroom, In R. Hertz
-
Lazarowitz (Ed.),
Interaction in Cooperative Groups:
The Theoretical Anatomy of Group Learning
,

(pp 3
-
4), NY: Cambridge University Press.


Hillyard, C., Gillespie, D. & Lit
tig, P. (2010)
University students' attitudes about learning in small
groups after frequent participation.
Active Learning in Higher Education
,

11(1)
,

9

20



Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
16

of
43


Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1990) Using cooperative learning in math. In N. Davidson (Ed.).
C
ooperative Learning in Mathematics: A Handbook for Teachers
. (103
-
125). Menlo Park, CA:
Addison
-
Wesley Publishing Co.


Johnson, R. T., & Johnson, D. W. (1989)
Cooperation and Competition Theory and Research
. Edina,
MN: Interaction Book.


Kennedy, F.A. &
Dull, F.B. (2008) Transferable Team Skills for Accounting Students.
Accounting
Education
, 17

(
2
)
, 213

224


Leveson, L. (1999) Small Group Work in Accounting Education: an evaluation of a programme for
first
-
year students,
Higher Education Research & Develo
pment
, 18: 3, 361
-
377


Kendall, M. E. (1999) Let Students Do the Work.
College Teaching
,

47: 84

91


Kolb, J. A. (1998) The Relationship between Self
-
Monitoring and Leadership in Student

Project Groups.


Journal of Business Communication
,

35: 264

82


Krifli
k, L. (2006) Resolving Group Work Issues, University of Wollongong,

http://edsnet.cedir.uow.edu.au/ld_cases/ld_cases_new.aspx [accessed 20/11/11]


LaLopa, J. M., Jacobs, J. W.,&C. Countryman (1999) The effects of student teams on quiz score
performance giv
en a performance
-
based incentive package.
Journal of Hospitality and
Tourism Education
,
11
(2/3), 25
-
30.


Livingstone, D., & Lynch, K. (2000) Group project work and student
-
centred active learning: Two
different experiences.
Studies in Higher Education
,
25
(
3), 325
-
345.


McCorkle, D. E., Reardon, J., Alexander, J. F., Kling, N. D., Harris, R. C., & Iyer, R. V. (1999)
Undergraduate marketing students, group projects, and teamwork: The good, the bad and
the ugly?
Journal of Marketing Education
,
21
(2), 106
-
117.


McKinney, K. and M. Graham
-
Buxton. (1993) The Use of Collaborative Learning Groups in the Large
Class.
Teaching Sociology,
21: 403

408.


Machemer, P. L. & Crawford, P. (2007) Student Perceptions of Active Learning in a Large Cross
-
Disciplinary Classroom.

Active Learning in Higher Education
,

8(1): 9

30.


Michaelsen, L. K., A. B. Knight and F. D. Fink. (2002)
Team Based Learning.
Westport, CT: Praeger.


Millis, B. J. and P. G. Cottell. (1998)
A Cooperative Learning for Higher Education Faculty.
Westport,
CT
: American Council on Education Series on Higher Education and Oryx Press.


Morley, L. (2001) Producing new workers: quality, equality and employability in higher education.
Quality in Higher Education
,
7
(2), 131
-
138.


Morris, R. & Hayes, C. (1997) Small
Group Work: Are group assignments a legitimate form of
assessment? In Pospisil, R. & Wilcoxson, L. (Eds), Learning Through Teaching, p229
-
233.
Proceedings of the 6
th

Annual Teaching Learning Forum, Murdoch University, February 1997.
Perth: Murdoch Univers
ity



Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
17

of
43


Mutch, A. (1998). Employability of learning? Groupwork in higher education.
Education & Training,
40
,

50
-
56


Parsons, D. E., & Drew, S. K. (1996) Designing group project work to enhance learning: Key elements.
Teaching in Higher Education
,
1
(1), 65
-
80


Pescosolido, A. (2001) Informal leaders and the development of group efficacy.
Small Group

Research
, 32
, 74

93


Roberts, M
; Parker, J.; Joyce, J. and Hassall, T. (2007)

Improving group work in accounting: a student
perspective.

BMAF Teaching Research and

Development Project: Final Report
. Available at:
http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/bmaf/documents/projects/TRDG_projects/projects_0
607/finalreports_projects_0607/MRoberts_0607Report_Groupworkaccounting.pdf
[Accessed: 02/06/11]


Roberts, T.S. & McInnerney,

J.M. (2007). Seven Problems of Online Group Learning (and Their
Solutions).
Educational

Technology & Society
, 10 (4), 257
-
268


Tideswell, C. (2005) A Student Perspective on the Use of Team
-
Based Assessment to Achieve the
Requirement to Be Creative.
Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism
, 4 (
4
)
, 1
-
22


Rossin, D. and Hyland, T. (2003) Group Work
-
based Learning within Higher Education: an integral
ingredient for the personal and social development of students.
Mentoring and Tutoring,

11(2), 153
-
162


Sp
ringer, L., Stanne, M. E. & Donovan, S. S. (1999) Effects of Small
-
Group Learning on
Undergraduates in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology: A Meta
-
Analysis.
Review of Educational Research,
69(1)
, 21

51


Tanenbaum, B. G., D. S. Cross, E. R. T
ilson, and A. T. Rodgers. (1998) How to Make Active Learning
Strategies Work for You.
Radiologic Technology,
69: 374

76


Tempone, I. and Martin, E. (1999) Accounting students' approaches to group
-
work.
Accounting

Education
, 8: 3, 177
-
186


Zwaal
, W.

and
Otting
, H.

(2010) The process of problem
-
based hospitality management education.

Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education
, 9(2),
17
-
30







Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
18

of
43


8.

APPENDICES


A.

Perspectives of Academic Staff (Concise Report)

B.

Student perspectives (Concise
Report)

C.

Staff questionnaire






Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
19

of
43


Appendix

A

Perspective

of Academic Staff

(
Concise
Report)


1.
Introduction


In order to establish the perspective of academic staff in the HLST subjects on group work practice in
their field, ten individual staff members from three different institutions, including the Universities
of Winchester, Bournemouth and Southampton, were
interviewed by the two researchers, using a
short questionnaire. Five of these academics were based in Sports Departments and five in Events,
Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism Departments.


In addition, two focus groups on the subject of group work were he
ld as part of a symposium of
sixteen academics in the HLST field, with participants from the Universities of Winchester,
Gloucestershire and Birmingham.


Interviews and focus groups were recorded, transcribed and then coded using Atlas
-
ti, a qualitative
d
ata analysis software package. An initial range of codes was agreed by the researchers with
additional codes emerging from the data and added during the coding process. The codes were
structured in a tree of three categories: the first category includes th
e

benefits (B)
and
positive
aspects
of group work, including

reasons given for why group work is carried out.
The
second
category, description of practice (D), included descriptions of the processes and organisation, the
“How to”, of group work.
The table
below

gives an overview of all the codes used and the number of
comments in each code category.

The
third

category includes all references to the different
problems (P) that occur, and the negative aspects of group work.



Table

7

(see also Table
3

above)
:
A
ll codes and number of comments
-

staff


CODE

NO. OF COMMENTS



CATEGORY
B
:
BENEFITS OF

GROUP WORK


B
: Pedagogy

45

B
: Develop Transferable Skills

45

B
: Employability

35

B
: Suitability for subject

18

B
: Peer learning

16

B
: Less teaching/marking

15

B
: Students get to know each other

11

B
: Lecturer gets to know students

5

B
: Enables students to self
-
reflect

5

B
: Required by programme or module

3

B
: Produces higher quality work

2

B
: Positive feedback from students

2

B
: Resources

1



CATEGORY
D: DESCRIPTION OF PRACTICE


D: Marking

56

D: Preparation and management of students

49

D: Group Formation

44

D: Conflict resolution

38

D: Formative versus summative

32


Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
20

of
43


D: Feedback

23

D: Preparation of staff

19

D: Formal documentation

16

D: Size of

groups

12

D: Students documenting group work

9

D: Amount of group work

9

D: Online groups

3



CATEGORY P: PROBLEMS WITH GROUP WORK


P: Social Loafing

34

P: Fairness of marking

19

P: Conflicts

18

P: Lecturer time and effort

13

P: Grades pulled
down

12

P: Marginalised students

10

P: Group formation

9

P: Lack of real learning

5

P: Practicalities

5

P: Negative feedback from students

2





2. Benefits of Group Work


The table below lists the
benefits and positive aspects of group work from academics’ perspective
and the
reasons lecturers g
a
ve for using group work in the modules they teach on HLST
programmes. From the initial codes in category

B

four different sub
-
categories of reasons emerged
from the data: firstly, pedagogical reasons, including specific aspects such as peer learning and self
-
reflection, secondly, skills development with a particular focus on employability, thirdly, social
reasons, such as facilitating staff and students getti
ng to know each other, and fourthly, practical
reasons, such as a reduced teaching and marking load. Based on the number of comments, the first
two categories seem to be the most important and are also closely linked.


Table
8
:
Codes for b
enefits of
g
roup
w
ork
-

staff


CODE

NO. OF COMMENTS

CATEGORY

B:

Pedagogy

45

Pedagogical

B:

Develop Transferable Skills

45

Skills development

B:

Employability

35

Skills development

B:

Suitability for subject

18

Pedagogical

B:

Peer learning

16

Pedagogical

B:

Less
teaching/marking

15

Practical

B:

Students get to know each other

11

Social

B:

Lecturer gets to know students

5

Social

B:

Enables students to self
-
reflect

5

Pedagogical

B:

Required by programme or module

3

Practical

B:

Produces higher quality work

2

Pedagogical

B:

Positive feedback from students

2

Pedagogical

B:

Resources

1

Practical



Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
21

of
43




2.1.
Pedagogical

benefits


Lecturers were emphatic about the necessity for sound pedagogical reasons for using group work,
one stating that ‘
I only do group work if there’s going to be some pedagogic benefit… the purpose of
group work must fit with the learning’,
another agreeing that

‘they [students] shouldn’t have group
work unless there’s a pedagogic sound reason for holding it, you don’t pu
t it in to reduce your
marking, that’s a big NO as far as I’m concerned.’
Lecturers also felt that it was necessary that the
pedagogic reason for group work was communicated to students it they were to engage with a
particular piece of group work.


Strengt
hs of group work

Group work was seen as an effective style of teaching as it introduces variety and efficiency
and
engages students more than standard teaching from the front.
Another
pedagogical benefit of group
work described was its suitability for stu
dents with different learning styles and skills sets. In
particular, some group work is seen as a more practical way of learning.

In addition, where group
work is used in summative assessment, it allows students who might struggle with traditional
written
assessment methods to perform well.


Within the category of pedagogical reasons, peer learning was repeatedly suggested as a particular
benefit.
Group work is seen as an approach that enables
shy or quiet students to engage and
participate more actively. O
ne lecturer noted that
it can

be useful for getting problems to the
surface, sometimes students will talk to each other more easily than they will to lecturers, and
sometimes it’s a way of getting those problems out in the open and being discussed and addr
essed.


Several lecturers noted that group work gives students the opportunity to self
-
reflect and enables
self
-
development. Lecturers also felt that group work enables students to produce higher quality
work, arguing that ‘
One of the advantages might be

to build or produce something that’s greater
than the sum of the whole.’
It might even lead to students actually achieving better grades in group
than individual work although no evidence was offered to support this claim.
It was also noted that
occasiona
lly the nature of a task necessitates group work.


Critical views on the pedagogical strengths of group work

Although lecturers overwhelmingly supported the pedagogical case for group work there were
several more questioning, even dissenting voices. Some
questioned what learning is facilitated by
group work, or indeed whether it necessarily facilitates learning at all. Some were concerned that it
may be counterproductive for particular groups of students, such as international students, or more
introverted

students. Lecturers also acknowledged that group work may not suit all lecturers and
can therefore be limited in its pedagogical usefulness.


Suitability of group work for the HLST subjects

As part of the interviews and in the focus groups lecturers were asked whether they considered
group work to be more suited to some subjects than others and whether it was seen to be
particularly suitable for the HLST subjects.
Lecturers widely acknowledge
d that the pedagogical role
of group work is rooted deeply in the practical nature of HLST subjects.


All lecturers from Hospitality, Leisure, Tourism and Events programmes agreed about the necessity
of group work for their modules and in their programmes
and Sports lecturers were equally positive
about the central role group work plays in their field.





Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
22

of
43


With regard to the suitability of group work to particular subjects a strong consensus emerged from
lecturers that group work as a learning tool should be

suitable for any subject. Nevertheless,
lecturers also acknowledged that while no subject is entirely unsuitable for group work, there may
be differences in how useful group work is in some contexts.



2.2.
Skills development and employability


It could
be argued that skills development should be considered a part of the pedagogical reasons
discussed above, and there is indeed a considerable overlap between these two sub
-
categories.
However, within the data, skills development emerged as a distinct consid
eration, mostly with a
focus on future employability, rather than learning and teaching at university.


Employability

The subject of employability was discussed at length in most of the interviews and staff focus
groups. There was general agreement that on
e, if not the, essential
purpose of group work is to
prepare students for future employment. Lecturers were acutely aware that employers specifically
expect team working skills from applicants and acknowledged that to some extent group work is
done to sati
sfy employers’ expectations.


However, mostly lecturers viewed group work as a tool for preparing their students for future
employment, giving them the experience and allowing them to develop the skills required to be
successful in a work context. In parti
cular, the ability to work with a wide range of people and with
unfamiliar people was emphasised as a skill central to employability.


Lecturers also observed that many students realise the importance and value of group work,
particularly once they have ha
d a placement or engagement with industry.


The direct transferability of skills developed through group work at university to team working in a
work context was queried by two lecturers.



Holistic skills development

Beyond employability, group work was
seen to allow students to develop transferable skills in a
wider sense, and even to develop as individuals in a holistic way.
In particular, the development of
social skills in general was seen to be central to the holistic development of students.

Of the
social skills to be developed, direct oral communication with others was emphasised by
several lecturers. Another important aspect of skills development was considered to be the necessity
to engage and cope with experiencing unfairness.



2.3.
Social

benefits


Lecturers get to know students

Several lecturers mentioned the opportunity group work affords the lecturers to get to know their
students better, particularly when working with large cohorts.


Students get to know each other

Most lecturers noted

the role group work plays in students getting to know each other, particularly
in their first year but also in the higher year groups. Group work is observed to break down social
barriers, create cohesion in a class and allow new friendships to develop.


Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
23

of
43




2.4.
Practical

benefits


Reduction in teaching and marking load

Many lecturers acknowledged that from the lecturer’s perspective one of the main advantages of
group work is that it reduces the marking load, particularly when dealing with large cohorts. In

addition, several lecturers also saw it as an efficient approach to teaching large cohorts, particularly
where student numbers are increasing and resources are limited.


However, several lecturers strongly insisted that well
-
managed group work can be as,
or more, time
-
consuming than written assignments. As discussed earlier in the section on Pedagogical Reasons,
several lecturers expressed disapproval of colleagues using group work without sound pedagogical
but for purely practical, even selfish reasons. I
t is not surprising then that some lecturers felt that
students perceive group work as the easy or convenient option for lecturers, especially when
students do not fully appreciate the pedagogical reasons for group work.


Group work as requirement in progr
ammes or modules

Although not strictly speaking a practical aspect, it should be noted that some lecturers
acknowledged that they use group work because it is a requirement, either in their department or
for the particular module they are teaching.




3.
G
roup Work Practice in HLST Programmes


During

staff

interviews and in the focus groups lecturers were asked to describe and discuss various
aspects of group work practice in their different programmes.


Main themes were the marking of group work and the preparation and management of students
during the course of group work. Other major themes were how groups are formed, how conflicts
are resolved and reflections on whether group work should be used for su
mmative assessment or
best be used only formatively. Additional themes included feedback on group work, the preparation
of staff, group sizes, students documenting group work, the amount of group work used across
programmes and online group work.


Table
9

below

indicates the themes and the number of comments made.



Table
9
: Codes for
d
escriptions o
f

g
roup
w
ork
p
ractice

-

staff


CATEGORY D: DESCRIPTION OF PRACTICE


D: Marking

56

D: Preparation and management of students

49

D: Group Formation

44

D:
Conflict resolution

38

D: Formative versus summative

32

D: Feedback

23

D: Preparation of staff

19

D: Formal documentation

16


Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
24

of
43


D: Size of groups

12

D: Students documenting group work

9

D: Amount of group work

9

D: Online groups

3



3.1.
Marking


Marking was the aspect of group work practice most extensively discussed by academics during
interviews. It was universally acknowledged that marking group work fairly and accurately is
challenging indeed. One academic noted: ‘
Group work, I think, people s
teer away from at times
because it’s very difficult to mark’.


Group and individual marks

One aspect of marking that academics discussed was whether all members of a group should receive
the same group mark or whether individual variations should be introd
uced. Strong arguments for
marking all group members the same were given, one academic noting:
I think if it’s set as a group,
then they get assessed as a group and they all get the same mark … the same as a team would win or
lose as a team.


However, most

academics interviewed preferred to introduce some variation to the group mark, to
take account of differences in students’ contributions. There was a wide range of approaches to how
these variations were managed. Most commonly, lecturers formally combined

an individual and a
group mark.

Others adjust the group mark up or down depending on their perception of individuals’
contributions.

Another approach introduced an element of choice and allowed students to choose
either a group mark or and individual mark

for each group member. An element of peer feedback or
even formal peer marking was also occasionally used.



Marking of process or end result

Another aspect of marking group work addressed by lecturers related to whether the process of
group work or just
the end result was marked. Some lecturers described taking into account the
group work process, without, however, explicitly stating their reasons, even though it is clear from
their comments that they consider it preferable. Lecturers who described only m
arking the end
result did not give explicit reasons for their approach either but instead mentioned the different
assessment criteria contributing to the grade.


The reason for choosing to mark the outcome rather than the process may be the perceived
diffi
culties involved in marking group work processes, rather than a positive preference for marking
the outcome.

Another reason for choosing to mark outcomes only mentioned by lecturers was a
focus on quality, including formal quality assurance processes.


The

difficulties associated with marking group work are further discussed in Part 3: Problems in
Group Work



3.2.
Preparation and management of students


The subject of whether and how lecturers prepare students for group work and how they manage
the on
-
goin
g process was another major theme in the discussions around group work practice.



Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
25

of
43


Preparation

Some lecturers felt that students are already prepared for group work through their secondary, and
even primary, education. However, the perception that students
arrive at university with group work
experience and skills was not shared by all lecturers and certainly not in relation to all students.


Lecturers acknowledged that the success of group work can rely on appropriate preparation of
students, one academic
observing:


Thinking back to my teaching, when I sort of reviewed doing group work projects, some of
them worked really nicely and people get immediately what they’re supposed to be doing,
and then other ones where I’ve kind of looked back and there’s been a lot of pe
ople shuffling
papers and looking round … what are we doing … kind of under their breath. I think looking
back it’s because I hadn’t prepared them enough in advance, and I’ve also perhaps been too
subtle with the messages that I’m trying to get them to thi
nk about


One form of preparation described was a detailed explanation of the group work project in the
module or programme documentation, and on internal learning networks. Lecturers also described
giving talks on group work during lectures and seminars,

or to individual groups rather than the
entire class.


Clarifying the purpose and benefits of group work to students

Lecturers noted that students were not necessarily aware of the reasons for or benefits of group
work.

However, they also acknowledged tha
t this might be because lecturers were not explicit enough
about the reasons for and benefits of the group work tasks. Some lecturers therefore made a
particular effort to explain the purpose of group work assignment.


Practical aspects of preparation

As p
art of students’ preparation for their group work task, lecturers focus on practical aspects, such
as facilitating mutual introductions and communication. Preparation for group work also occurred
more indirectly through lecturers modelling group working sk
ills during group work in class. Some
lecturers also discussed the desirability of preparing their students for conflict resolution while
acknowledging that this currently does not form part of their preparations.


On
-
going management of groups

Lecturers a
cknowledged the importance of on
-
going management of and involvement with groups in
order to achieve positive outcomes from group work. Where lecturers took a more detached
approach, they noted negative reactions from their students. Some lecturers also de
scribed feeling
uncomfortable themselves with a noninterventionist approach.


Group tutorials were the most commonly described approach to managing groups, particularly for
summatively assessed group work. Lectures and seminars were also used occasionally
for managing
and developing group work.



3.3.
Group Formation


When discussing the processes of group formation lecturers described a wide range of approaches
and a similarly wide range of opinions about the advantages and disadvantages of various
approa
ches.



Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
26

of
43


Some lecturers routinely allowed groups to self
-
select, particularly for summatively assessed group
work. Several lecturers described allowing students to form groups in the third year, reasoning that
students by then tended to know each other and s
elect groups on the basis of productive co
-
operation rather than just friendships.


However, the majority of academics preferred to assign students to groups, particularly for group
work in Year 1. The main reasons given were that this enables students to
work with a wider range
of people and that it more accurately reflects real life, i.e. future employment situations. It was also
felt to be fairer, less divisive and more easily managed.


Descriptions of how lecturers form groups indicated a wide range of
approaches, although groups
were mostly assigned randomly. Frequently factors such as a balanced gender mix and even
distribution of international students were taken into account.


Several alternative approaches to group formation were also offered, inclu
ding a combination of
self
-
selection and random assignment, or group formation on the basis of attendance or grades. One
lecturer described forming a group on the basis of students’ previous performance.


Lecturers also discussed different ways of dealing
with absent or marginalised students when groups
are formed. Usually lecturers tended to assign absent students to groups, often seeking the
agreement of the group members.


Lecturers noted that occasionally students requested to change to a different grou
p or work
individually. Mostly this was not allowed although exceptions were made if valid reasons existed.



3.4.
Conflict management and resolution


The subject of conflict in group work was widely discussed and will also be considered in more detail
in Part 3: Problems with Group Work. In this section, in the context of group work practice,
academics’ role in conflict resolution is considered.


This
aspect of practice showed a wide range of approaches; some academics described being
actively involved in managing groups, while others only became involved as a last resort. Lecturers
also spoke of actively encouraging groups to deal with conflicts themse
lves. Several interviewees
expressed the expectation that students should be capable of dealing with any conflicts arising
themselves and that this was a vital part of the learning experience.


Lecturers who engaged actively in conflict resolution found n
oninterventionist colleagues’ stance
difficult to accept.



3.5.
Formative versus summative use of group work


As part of the interviews lecturers were asked whether in their opinion group work ideally should
only be used only formatively or whether it sh
ould be summatively assessed. A substantial majority
of the lecturers interviewed supported summative assessment of group work, mostly because they
felt that students would otherwise not take it seriously or give it their best efforts. In addition, some
le
cturers felt that summative assessment of group work allowed for the assessment of a wider range
of skills, including team working skills.



Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
27

of
43


Support for group work to be used only formatively was less strongly expressed although one
lecturer noted students’

preference for formative group work.



3.6.
Feedback


Lecturers’ descriptions of feedback practice clearly indicated both the importance and the effort
assigned to high quality, timely feedback. Feedback was usually given both written and orally, either
instantly to the group, in a lecture or in a tutorial. Although there were variations in feedback
practice, lecturers commonly stated that feedback on group work included a group and an individual
element.



3.7.
Preparation of staff


Academics were asked
how they learned about delivering and assessing group work as part of their
professional practice.


Several academics described their experience as new lecturers, having to deliver modules which
included both formative and assessed group work, without fee
ling prepared. Lecturers
acknowledged becoming more confident and comfortable with group work as they became more
experienced.


Some lecturers described participating in training events that allowed them to explore aspects of
group work, including engaging

with academic literature on the subject. Several lecturers described
learning from colleagues, particularly in the early stages of their career. One person described
discussion of the subject at departmental level.


However, several lecturers expressed co
ncern about a lack of preparation and engagement with
group work both at theoretical and practical levels.



3.8.
Formal documentation


Academics were asked whether they were aware of the existence of a formal policy document on
group work in their programme, department or faculty. In two of the three faculties a formal
document did not exist.


In the faculty that did have a formal group
work policy, academics were overall positive. However,
one lecturer expressed doubt whether all staff members in the faculty were aware of it, and also
raised the issue of visiting lecturers.


Some academics in faculties where there is no written policy co
nsidered a written policy desirable.
However, there were also more critical voices regarding the usefulness or desirability of a formal
policy.

Finally, some lecturers expressed ignorance about whether or not a policy existed.






Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
28

of
43


3.9.
Size of groups


Lect
urers were asked about usual and ideal group sizes for group work projects. One lecturer
considered just two group members the ideal group size. However, the majority of lecturers used
groups with three or four members.
In some modules group sizes of up to

six members were used
and two lecturers described using larger groups of up to seven group members.



3.10.
Formal documentation of group work by students


One aspect of group work practice lecturers described was the requirement for students to formally
document group work processes. One advantage of formal documentation was seen to be the role it
can play in dealing with potential conflicts. Lecturers noted that students appreciate and even
request a formal framework for their group work.


However, one l
ecturer struck a more cautionary note about students’ willingness to document group
work processes, even when advised to do so.



3.11.
Amount of group work


Academics stressed the importance of achieving the right balance between group and individual
work
, observing that students question disproportionate use.



3.12.
Online groups


Several lecturers mentioned using or planning to use new technologies for group work projects.
However, some who had used online groups were cautious about the usefulness of
these online
groups.




4. Problems with group work


Although the pedagogical, developmental, social and practical benefits of group work were widely
acknowledged, lecturers were fully aware of a range of difficulties which group work presents to
both stud
ents and lecturers. Many of these problems were discussed in the context of group work
practice but some lecturers also referred to problems of a more pedagogical nature.


The most widely discussed problem was social loafing which is closely related to the

next two most
common themes discussed, namely fairness of marking and conflicts. Other problem subjects that
were raised a number of times were lecturer time and effort, grades being pulled down by weaker
students in a group, marginalised students and gr
oup formation. Several lecturers were concerned
about a lack of real learning taking place in group work and about practicalities, such as students
being able to find a mutually convenient time and location. Also mentioned as problems of group
work were ne
gative feedback from students in module evaluation forms and a lack of owners
hip for
projects in group work.
Table
9

below gives an overview of the themes discussed and the number of
comments for each

theme.



Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
29

of
43


Table
10
:
Codes for
p
roblems of
g
roup
w
ork

-

staff


CATEGROY P: PROBLEMS WITH GROUP WORK

NUMBER OF
COMMENTS

PROBLEM CATEGORIES

P: Social Loafing

34

Social loafing and conflicts

P: Fairness of marking

19

Marking and grades

P: Conflicts

18

Social loafing and conflicts

P: Lecturer time and effort

13

Practical problems

P: Grades pulled down

12

Marking and grades

P: Marginalised students

10

Group formation

P: Group formation

9

Group formation

P: Lack of real learning

5

Pedagogical problems

P: Practicalities

5

Practical problems

P: Negative
feedback from students

2

Practical problems




4.1.
Social Loafing


‘The disadvantage would be … loafers … not the shoe, the social type.’


Social loafing is seen to be the biggest problem of group work, both from lecturers and students’
perspective. The
reason social loafing was considered such a problem by lecturers related to the
fairness of marks: lecturers objected to freeloading students receiving undeserved good grades and
also thought that this was the reason for students’ resentment of freeloaders
.


Amongst lecturers there was less concern about a social loafer having a negative impact on the
group’s grade, although it was mentioned a couple of times. This particular aspect of social loafing
played a far more prominent role in students’ discussion
of problems with group work (see Part 4:
The Student Perspective).


Dealing with Social Loafing

One of the difficulties with group work is seen to be that there is no consensus on how and by whom
social loafing should be dealt with. Some lecturers wanted s
tudents to take responsibility for dealing
with deficient group members. However, lecturers observed that students are resistant to dealing
with other students. Lecturers described frequently being approached by students requesting their
intervention with
social loafers and many lecturers did indeed engage with either the group or the
freeloading student.


Judicious perspectives on social loafing

While social loafing was generally considered a substantial problem, lecturers also acknowledged
that not all la
ck of engagement by students is necessarily social loafing, but can also be an indication
of personal problems or other factors. Lecturers also noted that social loafing became less of a
problem in the higher year groups, as students focus on their degree
award.



4.2.
Fairness of marking


Where group work was summatively assessed, marking, and specifically fair marking, emerged as a
particular difficulty for most lecturers. Some considered marking group work even more problematic

Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
30

of
43


than soci
al loafing.
Lect
urers agreed that results from group work can differ from results students
achieve from traditional assessment methods.


Concept of fairness

A number of lecturers referred to the concept of fairness, acknowledging that this is not easily
defined and even l
ess easily implemented. Lecturers were conscious of a lack of fairness resulting
from group marks. In particular, lecturers were conscious of good students receiving lower marks
than they deserved and on the other hand weaker students and social loafers pr
ofiting from
undeservedly good grades. This point is also discussed in more detail below in the section on ‘Grades
are pulled down’.


Where peer marking was used in the marking of group work, this was also experienced as
problematical by lecturers as
students tended to indiscriminately give substantially higher grades.



4.3.
Conflicts


Lecturers described conflicts within groups as a further substantial and regular problem in group
work. The reasons given for conflicts included social loafing, as disc
ussed above, but also personality
clashes, relationship problems and conflicts arising due to personal circumstances. Additionally, and
closely related to personality clashes, disagreement about the distribution of roles was considered a
reason for conflic
ts.


Although occurring only rarely, several lecturers commented on situations where conflicts arising in
group work contexts reached a level of severity that required intervention by staff, for example due
to bullying, sometimes facilitated by new technol
ogies such as text messaging and Facebook.



4.4.
Lecturer time and effort


I totally disagree with anybody who says it’s easy to do group work, I think it’s easier to do
group work if you don’t do it properly, if that makes sense. If you do it properly it
’s actually
harder, but it’s much more beneficial.


While a reduction in lecturers’ teaching and marking load was considered a benefit of group work,
lecturers also argued strongly that well planned and managed group work can be very time and
labour intens
ive. Several lecturers made a comparison with the time and effort involved in setting
and marking essays as opposed to group work and concluded that group work made greater demand
on lecturers. It was noted that one reason why group work is time consuming
and resource intensive
is that cohorts are increasing in size.



4.5. Negative effect on grades


When discussing problems around marking group work, lecturers were particularly concerned about
the negative influence group work can have on the marks of more academically able students.
Lecturers felt that this concern was also shared by students and tha
t there was particular concern
that on occasion group work can affect a students’ final degree award.




Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
31

of
43


4.6.
Marginalised students


One aspect of the problems around group formation that lecturers discussed was the inclusion of
marginalised students in groups. Lecturers described having to be actively involved in ensuring
marginalised students were included when groups were formed. Som
etimes, marginalised students
were new to the class, other times they were described as being known as social loafers, or
frequently absent. Lecturers also discussed situations where group members were marginalised
during the course of group work, often du
e to circumstances beyond their control.



4.7.
Group formation


The subject of how groups should be formed was discussed extensively in the context of group work
practice (see Part 1). Lecturers recognised that different approaches to group formation wer
e
associated with specific problems.


Where students were allowed to form their own groups, problems included students choosing their
friends and the resulting marginalisation of some students, as discussed above. It was also noted
that friendship groups w
ere not necessarily most effective with regard to achieving high
-
quality
outcomes and good marks.


Where groups were assigned by the lecturers, often on a random basis, problems included the
uneven distribution of more and less academically able or diligen
t students, as well as an increased
potential for personality conflicts or other conflict situations, as one lecturer described:


I had one very bad experience where I had set the groups, rather than letting the students
choose, and inadvertently in the gr
oup of three, two of them had just split up. They were a
couple and they’d just split up and there’s no way I could have known this. But there was also
no way on earth that they were going to work together.



4.8.
Lack of real learning


The pedagogical be
nefits of group work were widely acknowledged and not many concerns were
raised by the lecturers interviewed. One of the pedagogical problems mentioned was a potential
lack of deep learning taking place in group work:


it’s quite rare that a group assignme
nt really touches base with some of those key aspects of
what traditionally higher education has been about: critical thinking, interrogating ideas,
coming up maybe with a new solution yourself or from the group
-

so I’m not saying that it’s
not possible t
o do that, but I’m suggesting it’s actually quite rare


This was particularly seen to be the case where students did not fully engage with group work.



4.9.
Practicalities


Lecturers mentioned that one of the problems of group work can be the practical,
organisational
aspect, particularly for students who live off campus and those who have other commitments, such
as family or paid work.


Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
32

of
43




4.10.
Negative feedback from students


Negative feedback from students in module evaluation, particularly with regard
to summative group
work assessment was mentioned by some lecturers but was not considered a major problem.







Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
33

of
43


APPENDIX B
-

THE STUDENT PERSPECTIVE (CONCISE REPORT)



1.
Introduction


This study considers group work practice in the HLST subjects and,
having considered academics’
perspectives on group work in the previous section, this part offers students’ perspective, in order
to present a rounded review of current practice.


Students in the Sports Department and on the Events Management programme in
the Faculty of
Business, Law and Sport at the University of Winchester were invited to participate in one of two
focus groups for each of the subjects.
In order to encourage participation, book tokens
were

offered
as incentive.


16 Sports students (8 per
group) and 8 Events students (4 per group) volunteered to participated in
the focus groups, each lasting between 30 minutes and one hour. The following discussion guide
was used for all four groups:


Discussion Guide for Student Focus Groups

1.

Can you
describe some group work projects you are doing?

2.

Why do you think group work is done on your programme?

3.

What do you think are the advantages of group work?

4.

How do your lecturers prepare you for group work?

5.

What are the disadvantages or weaknesses of group
work?

6.

How are these dealt with by the lecturers or how have you dealt with them in your groups?

7.

Should group work contribute to module grades or be formative only?

8.

What elements of the group work are marked and how are they weighted?


Discussions were reco
rded and transcribed, and transcripts were coded using Atlas
-
ti. Codes were
based on those used for the analysis of transcripts of staff interviews and focus groups and adjusted
to suit the slightly different emphasis of the student data.


Table 1
1

below g
ives an overview of the codes used and the number of
comments relating to each

code.



Table

1
1 (see also Table 4)
: Student comments


all codes


CODE

NUMBER OF COMMENTS

CATEGORY

Marking and grades

56

Practice

Group Formation

33

Practice

Social loafing

30

Problems

Group Size

24

Practice

Skills Development

22

Reason

Involvement of lecturer

19

Practice

Practicalities

15

Problems

Employability

12

Reason

Suitability for task

10

Problem

Conflicts

10

Problems

Lecturer Convenience

9

Reason

Feedback

8

Practice


Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
34

of
43


Peer learning

7

Reason

Formative

7

Reason

Getting to know others

6

Reason

Preparation of students

6

Practice

Suitability for different learning
styles

6

Reason

International students

2

Practice

Higher quality work

2

Reason



Generally students mostly focused on the difficult or negative aspects
of group work. By far the
highest number of comments related to how group work was marked and how this influenced
individual students’ grades. Another major theme was group formation, which was also frequently
discussed in relation to how this affected gra
des. The third major theme was social loafing, again
considered a negative aspect of group work.


The presentation of the findings from research with students follows the structure of the findings
from staff data. First students’
perceptions of why group w
ork is used

and the positive aspects of
group work are

considered, following the previously established categories of pedagogical
benefits
,
skills development/employability, social and practical
benefits
.
Next,
students’
descriptions and
views of various a
spects of group work practice, such as group formation, group size, preparation
for group work and feedback are presented. Finally, students’ views on problems with and negative
aspects of group work are discussed.



2. Benefits of
group work


Question 2:
‘Why do you think group work is done on your programme?’ and Question 3: ‘What do
you think are the advantages of group work?’ invited students to consider the positive aspects of
group work.


Table 1
2
: Codes for benefits of group work

-

students


CODE

NUMBER OF COMMENTS

CATEGORY

Skills Development

22

Transferable Skills

Employability

12

Transferable Skills

Lecturer Convenience

9

Practical

Peer learning

7

Pedagogical

Getting to know others

6

Social

Suitability for different learning
styles

6

Pedagogical



Students’ responses focused mostly on skills development and employability; social reasons, such as
getting to know other students, were only occasionally mentioned. Amongst practical aspects
a
reduced workload for lecturers was the third most commonly mentioned reason. Pedagogy, which
played a prominent role in lecturers’ responses, featured more indirectly in students’ responses, for
example in descriptions of peer learning and the suitabilit
y of group work for particular tasks and
for different learning styles.


Several students acknowledged that while they initially struggled with group work, over time they
both found it easier to do and also came to appreciate its value.


Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
35

of
43



Overall students c
onsidered group work less beneficial than lecturers did.



2.1.
Employability and development of transferable skills


Students were very conscious of the value of group work for developing transferable skills and
improving future employment prospects;
these were seen as the main advantages of group work.


Amongst the different skills discussed by students, communication skills and the ability to interact
well with people were mentioned a number of times. The importance of group work in developing
team w
orking skills was widely acknowledged. In particular, the ability to work in teams with
unfamiliar people, including those from different backgrounds, was considered important by
students. One student also mentioned improved presentation skills, another po
inted out how group
work enables students to learn how to deal with conflict.


Beyond these various people skills, students also observed group work enabling them to develop
self
-
awareness. The positive role group work can play in building confidence, anot
her attribute
rather than a skill, was mentioned by several students, pointing particularly to the early stages of
university life.



Students described group work as a preparation for future employment and increasing their
chances of finding a job after
university.



2.2.
Pedagogical
benefits


Suitability for particular tasks

Some students acknowledged that group work is suited to particular tasks, both in the classroom
and for assessment. However, when discussing the suitability of group work for particu
lar tasks, far
more negative comments were made. Students questioned the pedagogical value of some group
work experienced in lectures. They also considered group work unsuitable for summative
assessment in particular modules.


Peer learning

In all four
groups students acknowledged that one of the most positive aspects of group work was
the opportunity to learn from other students. Students also acknowledged that working with others
positively influenced motivation and creativity.


Suitability for differe
nt learning styles

Students observed that assessed group work introduces variation to assessment and allows
students with different skills sets an opportunity to succeed.



2.3.
Practical Reasons


Lecturer Convenience

Students commented that group work
meant lecturers spent less time teaching and interacting with
students. Comments in this category were nearly all negative as this was seen to be to lecturers’
rather than students’ advantage. A similar perspective was apparent in students’ comments on
ass
essed group work and marking, as discussed above.


Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
36

of
43



2.4.
Social reasons


Getting to know other students and even developing new friendships was noted as a positive side of
group work.
Another social benefit of group work was seen to be increased group cohes
ion.




3.
Students’ Perceptions of Group Work Practice


Question 1: ‘Can you describe some group work projects you are doing?’, Q4: ‘How do your lecturers
prepare you for group work?’, Q6: How do lecturers deal with the disadvantages or weaknesses of
group work?’, Q7: ‘Should group work contribute to module grades or be formative only?’ and
Question 8: ‘What elements of the group work are marked and how are they weighted?’ all invited
students’ views on and perception of group work practice in their va
rious modules and programmes.


Marking of group work, group formation and group size were central themes in the discussion of
how group work is done. While not specifically prompted about feedback, students also commented
on this aspect.


Although students were asked for descriptions in most of these questions (apart from Q7), the
responses were mostly combined with critical evaluations of these processes. Problematic aspects of
the various themes are further discussed in the final section
on Problems in Group Work.


Table 1
3
: Codes for
descriptions of group work practice
-

students


CODE

NUMBER OF COMMENTS

Marking and grades

56

Group Formation

33

Group Size

24

Involvement of lecturer

19

Feedback

8

Formative or summative group work

7

Preparation of students

6

International students

2




3.1.
Marking and Grades


The subject of marking group work and the effect of group work on grades attracted the highest
number of comments from students overall. Students argued strongly that as a general principle
their grades should be based on their own performance and not be
affected, positively or
negatively, by the performance of other students. Overall students were convinced that group work
negatively affected their grades in comparison with grades for individual work; only one student
indicated that group work resulted in

a very good grade.


In the context of the contribution of group work to their grade students variably argued that group
work should either be summatively assessed only in the first year, should only be assessed with a
pass or fail mark or should not con
tribute at all to their overall grade.



Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
37

of
43


Group or individual marks

Another central aspect of students’ discussions of the marking of group work focused on whether
all members of a group received the same mark or whether there were individual variations.
Stu
dents described occasional group work assignments where individual marks were given,
however, in the majority of cases, students described all group members receiving the same mark
and this was, with one exception, perceived to be unfair, as social loafers

profited from other
students’ efforts and more able or hard
-
working students were not rewarded appropriately.
Students therefore stated a preference for individual marks for group work, or, more frequently, for
a combined mark of a group and an individual

grade.


Marking process or product

Part of students’ discussion about marking focused on whether only the outcome or product of
group work was, or should be marked, or whether the process was, or should be, taken into
account. According to students, in th
e majority of summative group work only the final product,
such as a presentation, was marked.


However, many students strongly argued that the process should be taken into account when
marking group work, particularly since the final presentation may not
have been fully
representative of the actual quality of the work produced, or of the amount of time and effort
extended. This was felt particularly where a single group mark was given and where one students’
weak performance negatively affected the groups’

mark. One student also suggested that students’
attendance should be taken into account for group marks.


Marking criteria


what is marked: content or presentation skills

When discussing marking criteria students expressed concern at presentation skills
being part of the
marking criteria, arguing that marks should be given only for the content and structure of the
presentation. They argued that marking individuals’ presentation skills was counter
-
productive for
less confident or self
-
assured students, and

divisive for the group.


A number of students commented that marking schemes for group work were not very clear, and
differed for different group work projects. One student also expressed concern about variations in
marking of group work but this concern
was not shared widely.



3.2.
Group Formation


Students discussed different approaches to group formation, including self
-
selecting groups and
groups selected by the lecturers, the advantages and disadvantages of either approach, desirable
aspects of group
s and gave some suggestions on how groups should best be formed. Students felt
that ideally groups should have a mixture of personalities and skills in order to be balanced and
noted that a lack of balance can cause difficulties.


Approaches to group forma
tion

In all focus groups participants confirmed that students had experienced different approaches to
group formation throughout their programmes. In some modules students formed their own
groups, in others lecturers assigned students to groups.


Students
argued that forming their own groups allowed them to join up with those they ‘work well’
with. An additional advantage of working with friends was seen to be a reduced danger of social
loafing.

However, students were also very conscious of the disadvantage
s of self
-
selecting. Several students

Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
38

of
43


noted that working with friends might make the group less task
-
focused, and might also negatively
affect friendships.


During discussions of self
-
selected groups students gave some indication of their criteria when
cho
osing whom to work with. Although frequently students chose to work with friends, some
students alsotook into account other considerations, such as potential group members’ work ethic,
abilities and specific skills.



When discussing groups selected by the

lecturers, students clearly appreciated the advantages of
these groups, including better development of interpersonal skills and more focus on the task,
sometimes resulting in better grades. On the other hand, groups assigned by lecturers were seen to
be
more likely to lead to personality conflicts and social loafing, resulting in lower grades.



Several students made suggestions for the formation of groups by lecturers, arguing that groups
should not be formed randomly but instead take into account indivi
dual students’ abilities and even
personalities.


Although many students expressed a personal preference for one or other approach to group
formation, overall students appreciated that neither approach was perfect.




3.3.
Group Size


In students’ discuss
ions of group sizes they acknowledged that the ideal group size depends on the
specific task the group is required to carry out.


Mostly, students showed an overwhelming preference for groups of two or three members. One
student, however, noted that even w
orking in a pair can present difficulties. Most students
considered group sizes of four or five too large; groups with too many members were considered
counterproductive for learning. One student also raised the subject of uneven group sizes, which
were co
nsidered unfair.



3.4.
Involvement of lecturers


Students expressed a clear need for and expectation of lecturers’ on
-
going involvement in group
work, either by actively managing groups and or by being available for advice and intervention in
cases of co
nflicts or other problems. Several students expressed frustration at the perceived
abandonment of the groups, which is seen to negatively influence outcomes and result in lower
grades. On the other hand, lecturers’ active engagement with the group was cons
idered by students
to positively influence outcomes and grades.


Students accepted that lecturers cannot necessarily solve all problems that occur in the context of
group work as long as they were seen to be available to students. Some practical suggestion
s for
lecturers’ involvement in managing group work were made, including attendance lists and crisis
management meetings.


One student observed that in an employment context groups or teams would be actively managed.






Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
39

of
43


3.5.
Feedback


Students noted that
feedback on group work generally tended to be group feedback, which they
considered qualitatively inferior to the feedback received for individual work. Students also
commented on the small quantity of feedback for group work, which again compared unfavour
ably
with feedback for individual work.



3.6.
Formative or summative group work


Students’ description of formative group work in lectures and seminars tended to be negatively
phrased, describing it as a waste of their time or of teaching time. However, s
tudents freely
acknowledged that they extended their efforts strategically, putting less effort into formative than
summative work and less into assignments where marks counted less towards the overall or final
grade. At the same time, students were wary o
f summatively assessed group work, as will be shown
in more detail in the section on Marking.



3.7.
Preparation for group work


Students expressed frustration that lecturers seemed to expect students to already be skilled at
group working and therefore no
t need specific preparation. Instead, students articulated a desire
for teaching of specific group working skills as well as clear frameworks and processes for group
work.



3.8.
International students


Although there are many international students at the

university overall and in the faculty, the
programmes in the HLST subject area only have a comparatively small number of international
students. The subject of international students was not at all mentioned in the focus groups with
Sports students and on
ly in one of the Events groups. Both comments on Chinese students were
positive, noting their strong work ethic which outweighed any language difficulties.




4. Problems with

group work


Question 5: ‘What are the disadvantages or weaknesses of group
work?’ invited students to consider
the negative aspects of group work.


Students’ discussions clearly indicated that they considered the biggest problem with group work to
be social loafing. Other problems were seen to be the practical aspects of group wo
rk relating to
organisation, time management and the availability of suitable meeting venues. In addition, conflicts
arising in the context of group work were seen as a problematic aspect, as was the question of the
suitability of specific tasks or assignm
ents and the perceived negative impact of group work on
grades.





Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
40

of
43


Table 1
4
: Codes for
problems

of group work

-

students


CODE

NUMBER OF COMMENTS

CATEGORY

Social loafing

30

Problems

Practicalities

15

Problems

Conflicts

10

Problems

Suitability for task

10

Problems

Negative impact on grades

7

Problems



Further aspects of group work perceived as problematic such as difficulties with marking, with group
formation and lack of
lecturers’ involvement in the management of groups were discussed in the
context of group work practice, above.



4.1.
Social loafing


Students in all four focus groups discussed social loafing
,

and commented extensively on different
aspects, including the negative effects of social loafing and approach

to dealing with this problem.


Negative effects of social loafing

The main harmful consequence of social loafing was considered to be a negative
effect on grades.
Students also saw the increased workload for other group members as a negative outcome of social
loafing. In addition, students gave anecdotal evidence of social loafers causing stressful situations
for other students for example by not a
ttending final presentations without prior notice.


Where social loafers received the same, unadjusted mark as the rest of the group, students
expressed a strong sense of frustration at the perceived unfairness of their benefitting from others’
work and ef
forts.



Approaches to dealing with social loafing

In the context of students’ discussions of how social loafing is, and should be, dealt with, students
accepted social loafing as a fact of life that also occurs in other contexts, including work. Students
also recognised that there are limitations to what either students or lecturers were able to do to
discourage, manage or punish social loafing.


Students expressed uncertainty about lecturers’ expectations of other group members with regard
to dealing with

social loafers and stated a desire to have clear frameworks as part of assignment
instructions, or more generally in module or programme documentation.


Some students described a lack of sanctions for social loafing on their group work experience and
expr
essed a desire to have sanctions introduced. However, other students described sanctions on
social loafers encountered in group work they had participated in, including removal of a group
member from the group and assignment of an individual task and lower
ing of the individual’s mark
from the group mark. Although some students wished for sanctions to be imposed, others
described more mixed feelings.


Students also agreed that they knew, or became aware during the course of their studies, which of
their peer
s were likely to be social loafers; and where students self
-
selected groups they actively
avoided working with these students.




Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
41

of
43


Although social loafing is mostly seen as being caused by the attitude of individuals, occasionally it is
seen to be the result

of excessive group sizes or tasks that were not suitable for the size of the
particular group. One student also mentioned that social loafing may be caused by a student
experiencing personal difficulties.



4.2.
Practical difficulties


Practical
difficulties relating to organisational aspects of group work were discussed extensively.
Students focused particularly on issues relating to finding meeting times suitable to all group
members.


The reasons for this were to seen to be general busyness, p
articularly at specific times of the
academic year. Difficulties with finding meeting times were also related to a clash of schedules
where students from different programmes were taking a joint module. Students’ external work
commitments such as part
-
tim
e jobs were described as adding another layer of difficulties in finding
meeting times.


Students not living on campus were seen to be most affected by pressures on time. Travelling long
distances for short meetings was seen to be an inefficient use of tim
e and associated with high
costs, with extra difficulties described for users of public transport. On rare occasions bad weather
caused difficulties, particularly for commuting students.



Students also commented on the difficulties of finding suitable mee
ting places, particularly for
larger groups and where practice f
or a presentation was involved.
Another practical difficulty
students described was a lack of effective communication between group members, leading to
misunderstandings and potentially causin
g conflicts.



4.3.
Conflicts


Social loafing was described as the major cause of conflicts in groups but students also described
conflicts due to personality clashes or practical difficulties. Students commonly experienced
personality clashes in their gro
up work but described these in a matter
-
of
-
fact manner,
acknowledging that this was to be expected and had to be dealt with as part of group work.
Conflicts caused by practical difficulties were also mentioned and are discussed in the section on
Practical
Difficulties.


Occasional comments on students experiences of how conflicts were dealt with all related to the
involvement of lecturers.




4.4.
Suitability of group work


Students expressed reservations about the pedagogical value of some group work
experienced in
lectures and seminars, considering it ineffective and time
-
consuming. In particular, however, they
questioned the suitability of group work for summative assessment in general, as well as in
particular modules and for particular tasks, givin
g examples of assignments they felt should have
been individual tasks.




Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
42

of
43


4.5.
Negative Impact of Group Work on Grades


Students discussed the negative impact of group work on grades in the context of social loafing, and
as a consequence of conflict,
as
described above
. In addition, however, a number of students
described grades being pulled down because of other students’ lower aspirations or lower abilities.






Elwyn Cox &

Sabine Bohnacker
-
Bruce

University of Winchester

Page
43

of
43


Appendix C
: Staff questionnaire


The following questionnaire was used in interviews with aca
demic staff
:


Staff Interview Questions


Critical Review on Group Work in HLST Subjects

1.

Why do you do group work with your students?

2.

What do you think are the advantages of group work?

3.

What are the disadvantages or weaknesses?

4.

What is your experience of g
roup work in other institutions
-

including your own experience
as an undergraduate student?

5.

Do you feel that it is better suited to some subjects or type of course more than others
-

if so
why?

6.

Do you feel comfortable running group assignments?

7.

What do yo
u think students feel about why group work is used?

8.

Do you think your relationship with a

class affects student satisfaction with group work?

9.

What do you do to prepare students beforehand so that group work projects run smoothly?

10.

What typical problems migh
t still arise in your experience?

11.

How do you deal with such problems?

12.

Is the guidance to you on what is expected from, and how to run group assessments, clear
and recorded in formal documentation?

13.

What type of format or model do group assessments that

you
are familiar with take?

14.

Do you ensure that all students are contributing equally
-

if so, how?

15.

How are the

groups formed?

16.

Do you take personality
-
types into account when forming groups?

17.

Should group work contribute to module grades or be formative only?

18.

What elements of the group work are marked and are they equally weighted?

19.

Do you run feedback sessions related to the group assessments? What themes emerge?

20.

What can be done to make group work effective for employability?