Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Demise of Group Work in My Classroom

I am happy to finally put to rest the absolute exercise in futility that is group-based exercises in my Chem 1 classes. I started this semester with high hopes of using case studies in the classroom and allowing my students to work in small groups. I even sweetened the deal by allowing them easily pass each case study through simple attendance and proof of basic preparation.

The only result of this work (and let me tell you it was a lot of work to prepare all of the case studies) is a massive increase in slackers riding the coat tails of the well prepared students. In addition to an increase in the slacker quotient many of the students seem absolutely incapable of retaining any of the information or able to apply even the most basic concepts.

Now, before any of my non-existent readers get up in arms over the much-researched and touted practice of small groups, let me say this. Group work in the classroom only seems to work when students are actively engaged in the process. At the non-honors freshman level students just don't seem to be emotionally or intellectually mature enough to get much out of the activity.

So, dear readers, let us no longer resurrect this exercise for the teeming, uninterested masses. Rather, let us all return to the old fashioned quiz and exam, the crucibles of mental purification where the shortcomings of students are laid bare to be purified in the fire of trial and perseverance.

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