Belfast Education & Library Board (BELB, 2009)
Research has shown that an important factor in improving pupils’ learning, motivation and behaviour at school is the opportunity for them to work successfully in groups. Given that we retain 90% of what we say and do, it would therefore seem only fitting that the promotion of collaborative learning opportunities be incorporated as a key feature of the Revised Northern Ireland Curriculum.
However, while pupils may often sit in groups in our classrooms, research also indicates that they do not always work well collaboratively.
Successful group work is not an easy classroom management option. Indeed, it demands a lot of skill on the part of teachers, many of whom may often feel reluctant to implement it either because of lack of confidence, experience and insufficient training, or because they do not wish to undermine their discipline or lose control, particularly of challenging classes or difficult pupils within a class. Nevertheless, given the current drive to raise achievement and promote more autonomous and active learning, it is important that teachers be prepared to let go and develop the confidence to try out more collaborative group work strategies.