Do you dread group projects? Maybe you’ve had a bad experience with one in the past, or you are concerned that you may have to do all the work. But in fact, group projects (also called project-based learning) model the real-world environment of the workplace and help you to practice a variety of durable skills including communication, conflict management, collaboration, leadership, and time management
In fact, studies have shown that group projects can have a positive impact on student success in college. Here are a just a few of the benefits researchers have found for students who participate in group projects or project-based learning.
- Improved learning outcomes: Research has shown that group projects can lead to better learning outcomes compared to individual assignments. In group projects, students are more likely to engage in deeper learning, engage in meaningful discussions, and retain information better (Brindley et al., 2009).
- Development of transferable skills: Group projects can help students develop transferable skills, such as communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills, which are valuable in both personal and professional life (Ornellas et al, 2019; Garnjost & Lawter, 2019).
- Increased motivation and engagement: Group projects can increase student motivation and engagement, as students are more likely to be invested in the project when they feel that their contributions matter (Hira & Anderson, 2021).
- Higher student satisfaction: Students who participate in group projects tend to report higher levels of satisfaction with their course and the learning experience (Lee et al., 2014).
- Improved grades: Studies have shown that students who participate in group projects tend to perform better academically compared to those who do individual assignments (Shimazoe & Aldrich, 2010).
As you can see, group projects can be an effective teaching strategy in college because group work can lead to improved learning outcomes, development of transferable skills, increased motivation and engagement, higher student satisfaction, and improved grades.
That’s why I assign a group project in my English 211 Literary Analysis course. Students work together to produce Beginnings and Endings: A Critical Edition. They each take different roles as part of the publication process. This open education resource is now used in college classrooms around the world, and students who participate in the project are able to add a publication credit to their résumés. The publication demonstrates how a group working together can create something much larger than an individual could create alone.
“Working on Beginnings and Endings was something I never thought I’d be doing even just a year ago,” said one of my students, Liberal Arts major, Helen Neves. “Contributing to the publication with my group ended up being something both educational and fun. Knowing that future Literary Analysis students will see our work made the project even more exciting and worth the effort.”
To learn more about how to make sure your group projects are a positive and productive experience, watch this short video.
Then “jump in” to your Shark Tank discussion, and have fun working with your group to propose a new product or service in your field of study. You will find that you don’t have to dread group work. By treating group projects as practice for the workplace, you’ll be setting yourself up for success in your future career.
Brindley, J. E., Blaschke, L. M., & Walti, C. (2009). Creating effective collaborative learning groups in an online environment. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 10(3). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v10i3.675
Garnjost, P., & Lawter, L. (2019). Undergraduates’ satisfaction and perceptions of learning outcomes across teacher-and learner-focused pedagogies. The International Journal of Management Education, 17(2), 267-275. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijme.2019.03.004
Hira, A., & Anderson, E. (2021). Motivating online learning through project-based learning during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. IAFOR Journal of Education, 9(2), 93-110. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1291884
Lee, J. S., Blackwell, S., Drake, J., & Moran, K. A. (2014). Taking a leap of faith: Redefining teaching and learning in higher education through project-based learning. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 8(2), 2. https://doi.org/10.7771/1541-5015.1426
Ornellas, A., Falkner, K., & Edman Stålbrandt, E. (2019). Enhancing graduates’ employability skills through authentic learning approaches. Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning, 9(1), 107-120. https://doi.org/10.1108/HESWBL-04-2018-0049
Shimazoe, J., & Aldrich, H. (2010). Group work can be gratifying: Understanding & overcoming resistance to cooperative learning. College Teaching, 58(2), 52-57. https://doi.org/10.1080/87567550903418594