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  • 1. High Schoolers Perceptions of Group Work in Class Megha Nagaswami Haverford Senior High School

2. Introduction My personal interest in studying this topic stems from my own experiences with group work and individual work in classes. I have encountered different instances where one method seems more useful than the other. I have also noticed factors that affect how efficiently a group works together, or how efficiently I work alone. 3. Introduction (continued) My goal in this project was to investigate the thoughts and attitudes of high school students who experience both group work and individual work in their classes. Many studies examine students test scores to compare the two methods, so I wanted to expand on this by analyzing students own actual perceptions and attitudes. 4. Prior Research Forsyth defined a group as two or more individuals who are connected to one another by social relationships (2006). In the past, studies have found that students test scores tend to improve when they work in groups. Webb (1993) found that students scored higher in groups than individually on tests. However, many students used the resources of the group to get the right answer but not to learn the procedures for solving the problem. 5. Prior Research Frykedal and Chiriac (2011) held three focus groups with teachers, and realized that group work is a tool for students to build socially. Shaw (1932) found that groups are more accurate than individuals, in terms of the proportion of correct answers on a test. 6. Research Questions 1. Do students perceptions and preferences vary by grade? 2. Do students perceptions and preferences vary by academic level? 3. Is there a certain class in which students feel they benefit the most from group work? 4. Is there a certain class in which students feel they benefit the least from group work? 7. Hypotheses 1. Younger (freshmen and sophomores) will have more positive perceptions of group work. 2. Students in lower academic levels will have more positive perceptions of group work. 3. Students will feel that they benefit the most in Math classes. 4. Students will feel that they benefit the least in History classes. 8. Demographics of Participating Schools School A: A public high school in suburban Philadelphia 87% white students; 6% Asian students; 5% black students Approximately 1,800 students total School B: A public high school in Philadelphia 35% black students; 24% white students; 22% Asian students Approximately 3,300 students total 9. Survey DesignThere were four main survey categories: Category 1: Demographics Grade, academic level of English/History/Science/Math Category 2: Impact of Group Work How students are affected in class Category 3: Experiences in Class How groups work together in class Category 4: Perceptions of Subjects Which classes benefit/do not benefit students 16 questions total 10. Survey Administration School A: The survey was administered to approximately 800 students in all grades, and 388 usable surveys were received. School B: The survey was administered via an online survey software as an email link to all students. 61 usable surveys were received. A total of 449 survey responses were received and analyzed. 11. Interpreting Survey Results The students were asked to rate the extent to which they agreed with certain statements. 1= Strongly Disagree, 2= Disagree, 3= Agree, 4= Strongly Agree Ex. A mean score of 3.5 on a question indicates that the majority of students agreed with the statement. 12. Survey Results Survey Question Group work has made my classes more enjoyable than if I were working individually. Working in groups has enhanced/supported my understanding of concepts Group tests or projects help me apply and understand concepts My group members have hindered my ability to learn material I feel that my scores on group tests or projects would increase if I took the same test individually The majority of my groups are able to help me when I am having trouble learning material The majority of my groups are cooperative when we are working The majority of my groups are focused when we are working on a task All of my group members play an equal role in the completion of a taskN 438 439 434 421 424 430 430 426 428Mean Score 3.04 2.94 2.89 1.71 1.62 2.90 2.94 2.73 2.45Students were asked to rate the surveys statements on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 4 (strongly agree). This table shows the mean scores of all the participants responses. 13. Is there a relationship between grade and perceptions? Gr 9SDImpact of Group Work3.23 N=1120.47Experiences with Group Work2.75 N=1160.51Gr 10SDGr 11SDGr 12SD3.14 N=880.453.26 N=1100.553.29 N=930.552.71 N=910.512.75 N=1100.542.79 N=970.51This table shows the average of two scale categories, by grade, based on the corresponding survey questions in each category. There is little to no variation in the values between grade, suggesting that grade of student does not alter views of group work. 14. Is there a relationship between academic level and perceptions? Academic MathSDAP MathSDImpact of Group Work3.23 N=1420.473.17 N=630.59Experiences with Group Work2.76 N=1450.482.76 N=630.55Academic ScienceSDAP ScienceSDImpact of Group Work3.20 N=1340.453.20 N=550.59Experiences with Group Work2.75 N=1360.472.71 N=560.54Note: In both schools, academic is the lowest achievement level, while AP (Advanced Placement) is the highest. 15. Relationship between academic level and perceptions (continued) Academic EnglishSDAP EnglishSDImpact of Group Work3.23 N=1580.423.23 N=640.66Experiences with Group Work2.81 N=1640.432.74 N=650.63Academic HistorySDAP HistorySDImpact of Group Work3.25 N=1530.423.24 N=910.63Experiences with Group Work2.82 N=1600.442.74 N=930.63When the mean values of each scale are compared, there is little to no variation between academic level. 16. In which class do students feel they benefit the most from group work? In which core subject do you feel that you benefit the most from group work? Frequency Valid Percentage Math17843.2Science7117.2English8119.7History8219.9Total412100.0This table shows the responses from all surveyed students. The highest percentage reported that they benefitted the most from group work in Math, which fits my hypothesis. 17. In which class do students feel they benefit the least from group work? In which class do you feel that you benefit the least from group work? FrequencyValid PercentageMath11327.4Science5413.1English15136.6History9523.0Total413100.0This table shows the responses from all surveyed students. The highest percentage reported that they benefitted the least from group work in English, which was different from my hypothesis. 18. Interview Design The interviews consisted of 10 open-ended questions. Student volunteers in each grade were randomly selected to be interviewed by a third party member. Student responses were recorded, but were kept anonymous. Student responses were not connected to their survey responses. Total number of interviews conducted: 5 19. Example Interview Questions Why do you prefer to work in some classes individually/in groups? What factors have you noticed that make your groups work efficiently and effectively? Describe a time when group work worked well/did not work well for an assignment. How do you think group work or individual work affects your grades? How fair do you think group work or individual work is? 20. Interview Findings In 4 of the 5 interviews, students reported that they prefer to work individually in math classes. All participants felt that grades based on individual work are more accurate than grades based on group work. 4 of the 5 participants preferred to work in groups in science classes. The interviews contradicted the survey data, in that the interviewees preferred to work individually in math, and with groups in English. 21. Interview Findings (continued) All of the participants pointed out that in some groups, their team members have copied their answers without doing any work. All participants believed that individual work is more fair, as they can take all personal accountability for the results. The participants stressed the importance of communication when working in groups. 22. Conclusion Based on the results of my study, I concluded that the majority of students in my sample have a positive perception of group work. Students believe that group work helps them learn, understand, and apply the material, while also being enjoyable. These views do not change throughout different grades, or levels of academic achievement. 23. Significance of Findings Educational psychologists, teachers, parents, students, and policymakers are interested in finding the best way to learn and teach material. These findings may encourage schools and teachers to include more group work in their math classes. Educational policymakers may start designing curriculums that incorporate group work in all grades and academic levels. 24. Further Research I am interested in comparing the results of the surveys and interviews to the actual academic performance of students. The same test would be administered to students in groups, and students working individually. The scores from the two samples would be compared. It would be interesting to see if group tests yield a higher score, since group work is more preferred by students. 25. ReferencesForsyth, D. R. (2006). Group dynamics (international student edition). Thomson/Wadsworth: Belmont, CA. Frykedal, K. F., & Chiriac, E. H. (2011). Assessment of students' learning when working in groups. Educational Research, 53(3), 331-345. Shaw, M. E. (1932). A comparison of individuals and small groups in the rational solution of complex problems. The American Journal of Psychology, 491-504. Webb, N. M. (1993). Collaborative group versus individual assessment in ma