Madee Salehi, PhD
Some of us believe that a good composition for a group work is having one strong student and couple of weaker ones work together. This semester in a math 092 I tried something different. I organized groups of student who were at the same level. Then I dedicated more time to the weaker ones. I made them work in such a way that there is no group leader. All had to contribute as much as any other members. Comparing their score of the first and second test (for weaker students) showed, in average, over ten point improvement. I plan to rerun this experiment, next semester too. The reason I planned this experiment was earlier observation that the stronger one did the work and others just watched. Now that all were chosen such that no one could dominate the group work, they were encouraged, not intermediated and forced to contribute something to the results of group work.
Very interesting, Madee. I applaud you risk-taking! Research on collaborative learning groups emphasizes the importance of heterogeneous grouping with regards to ability, gender, ethnicity, etc. Yet you went against that, and seem to have some positive results. I look forward to your report on continued efforts in this area in the future. One question - what about the groups of the stronger students? Did they do as well, and, assuming they complete their tasks sooner than others, what do they do with their extra time?
I like this way of organizing groups as well. Thanks for sharing your results; I look forward to seeing your results this semester.
Would you consider running one class with the mixed-abilities groups and another with homogenous abilities? I would be very interested to see which groups do better.
This was not an attempt based on a well design method of reseach. I just tried it in order to help my students. When I saw the results after few weeks, it occured to me that it could be duplicated again in other semesters. I am well familliar with method of research , had taught it in some universities quite frequently. In no way I can be sure that results are scientifically achieved. I recomend that others give it a try. I did not spend much time with those students who were stronger. They knew what they were doing.
A fascinating way to use Farmative Assessment techniques to imrpove student learning.