#18 The optimum group size is three
It stops subgroups forming but ensures a diversity of ideas
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Confession time: I am a massive group-work skeptic. Sure, I was whipping out groups left, right and centre in my early career (especially when being observed), but I never found students learned as much as when they worked individually or in pairs.
One of the most interesting findings from Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics concerns group size. My groups tended to consist of 4 students, or 5 if there was an odd number. Why? To be honest, I have no idea.
In Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics, Peter Liljedahl instead suggests that a group size of 3 is optimum. His reasoning is that a group size of 2 does not have sufficient variety in perspectives to challenge students' ways of thinking and thus allow new ideas to form, whereas group sizes of 4 and above are likely to lead to sub-groups forming and thus group cohesion falling.
This is just scratching the surface of Liljedahl's recommendations for effective group work, but it might be an interesting one to experiment with.
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Curriculum expert, Mary Myatt, shares a key question we need to ask ourselves: who is this for?
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