Group Work in the Primary Classroom

Group Work in the Primary Classroom

Group Work in the Primary Classroom

Group Work in the Primary Classroom

Synopsis

Using case studies derived from the ORACLE II project, the authors examine the importance of collaboration in the development of higher mental functions and also the social and emotional advantages that can be derived from group work.

Excerpt

Group Work in the Primary Classroom describes research which has taken place at the School of Education, University of Leicester, since 1980 when the then Social Science Research Council (SSRC) funded a three-year project on the topic. By the end of the three years the project had reached few positive conclusions apart from the fact that motivating children to work collaboratively in groups and managing this activity was extremely difficult. But a fascination with the topic and a conviction that collaborative activity in the primary school was a necessary and valuable experience for all pupils resulted in a decision, by a dedicated group of teachers, to continue their search for answers to the difficult problems posed by the use of this teaching approach. Somehow money was made available from within other research projects to continue the work on a modest scale and a request by the Open University to make a film on teaching styles was also put to good advantage. As part of a Study Leave, one of the authors was able to work alongside two of the teachers and this, it was felt, helped us to understand the problem more clearly from each other's point of view.

A decade later group work has again become a key area of interest for primary teachers. The introduction of the National Curriculum, with its corresponding attainment targets, suggests that children will work at their own pace and that, as part of classroom organisation, groups of pupils performing at a similar level will come together to take part in joint activities. Such groups, however, will not be static but may vary according to curriculum topic and the interests of the pupils. The non-statutory guidance, A Framework for the Primary Curriculum, published by the National Curriculum Council, advises teachers that . . .

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