Research Reflection: Do University Students Like Group Work?

The question as to whether university students like group work was investigated through collection of primary qualitative and quantitative data, as well as secondary research.

The research:

The primary research methods used were informative and insightful. In hindsight, although the survey allowed me to ask a large group of people their thoughts on whether group work is effective, it would have been better to include a greater amount of questions. Statistics generated in the opinion piece were calculated through survey results, and allowed for easier comprehension of data for readers. Thirty-nine people took the survey. Fifty students or more would have allowed for greater insight as to whether students favour team work.

interviews

The interviews were a successful primary research method, as one-on-one interviews allowed questions to be asked based on respondents answers. If a candidate’s answer was not clear, the question “why do you think that is?” was asked. After being a candidate in other student’s focus groups and seeing how a larger pool of responses can be collected at one time, a focus group would have been better than three interviews. Although the interviews went well, focus groups allow candidates to bounce ideas of one another, whereas interviews can be intense for the interviewee. As interviewees can find the experience confronting, the interview was structured as a conversation rather than a straight Q and A format. Instead of sticking strictly to the listed questions, they were dependant on what the interviewee had previously said.

Secondary research was conducted through reports, news articles, data sets and websites. This research was a basis for the survey and interviews. Not only was pre-primary research beneficial, but it was also beneficial after the surveys and interviews had concluded. For example, many students felt they had a lack of control in their group and secondary research confirmed this is largely because they are a high achieving student who wishes to get the best marks they can (Wilkens and Tucci).

The Results:

The opinion piece concluded that majority of university students researched disliked group work, as they had a lack of control over the assessment and were reliant on other students for marks. They suggested not to abolish group work, as working as a team is an aspect of university that employers look favourable upon, but rather decrease the weight of assessments as well as choose carefully the types of assessments are required to be completed as a group. The results surprised me slightly, as I did not consider how other students, as well as myself find university group work a difficult task.

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As secondary research revealed that high achieving students did not enjoy team work due to a lack of control over the assessment, potentially a shift in students attitudes towards team work is required rather than changing the assessments themselves. Learning to work with others is important, and learning that high destinctions are not the ‘be all to end all’ is a vital realisation for all university students.

What I Learnt & Conclusion:

Before I began my research journey, I was not aware of whether other students disliked group work as I did in my time at university. As shown through my primary research, majority of participants also preferred to work on projects by themselves. Interestingly, secondary research exemplified that this desire to work on a lone task, may be due to a fear that other students may not produce the same standard of work. Hence a shift in personal attitude, and an acceptance that people’s diversity, difference and talents contribute to the quality and uniqueness of a project is in order. This project has given me insight into my own stubbornness and sometimes inability to communicate, and has taught me that high marks are not the only important factor when completing university assessments.

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