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Group or Individual Work at WMS

Brian Dwyer
8th grade students write their articles together at WMS.

The teacher assigns a task, but students stress about whether doing it by themselves or having a helping hand. The teacher says, “Ok everybody find a partner.” Half the class sprints to their friends and the others slam their head down. 

Group work is a huge part of school. Some people love it and others hate it. Group work tends to allow you to work on teamwork, communication, confidence, and many other skills. Individuality helps you work on self-responsibility, time management, focus, and other traits. 

Some cons of group work that have been studied are members not contributing and unequal participation.. The cons of individual work are more stress, less teamwork, and communication. 

8th grade student, Bobbi Jo Timinski, prefers group work because “you can talk with your peers and you get to come up with better ideas.” She feels like she would rather work in a group for the rest of her life instead of individual work because “sometimes individual work you’re kind of confused on things, but in a group you can ask your group member questions and get their ideas,” said Timinski.

Timinski also shared some of the negative aspects of group work compared to the negative, stating, “Cons for group work are you guys don’t agree on things, like you want to do your own things. Pros are you guys could combine your ideas together and make it better.” She does have some pros and cons for individual work too. Timinksi said, “You can do things during your own time. The cons are you don’t always have an extra person to help with questions and get better ideas.”

8th grade ELA and creative writing teacher, Mrs. Douglas said she likes to give options when giving out work, “Sometimes it works to have collaborative minds to work together. Or as other times an individual is necessary. Like a test, quiz, or individual responses.” 

Douglas said, “The only con to group work is sometimes you can have a student potentially lean on others to do all the work and they still get the same amount of credit.” She also likes to give individual grades while giving out group work. “The pros about individual work is seeing the individual thought, what they got out of the piece of literature. I think the cons could be if someone is struggling and doesn’t feel confident enough to speak up to the teacher to get support, they’ll either not turn it in or turn it in incomplete so that way you can’t assess their understanding.”

Some students, such as 8th grader Ed Grabon, only prefer group work under certain circumstances. Grabon said, “If I’m working with people I know and people who will actually work, then group, but most of the time I work individually.” Grabon believes most of the time while doing group work he does a majority of the work. 

If Grabon could only work individually or in groups he would individually because, “I don’t trust anybody and I have to carry every single project.” There are cons to individual work and Grabon believes that you could miss out on working with someone good. 

Mr. Olvesen, 8th grade teacher, prefers to give out group work, “I find students in my experience have the ability to ask questions that they may not always want to ask me to one of their classmates, which then allows for a shared learning experience in which hopefully everyone benefits,” said Olvesen. 

If he had the choice to only give individual or group work, Olvesen would choose individual. Olvesen stated, “I would select individual work because there are some assessments, although there’s a benefit to group work, there are some assessments that individual work is necessary to identify the skills possessed by a student.” 

8th grader Jack Kobylakiewicz likes to go with group work because he goes with his friends and he says it is more fun. “Working together is a better atmosphere and when you get older you always get help from other people,” said Kobylakiewicz. 

“The cons to group work is other people doing more work than others or doing all the work. The pros of individual work is getting smarter but the cons are it is boring,” Kobylakiewicz said. 

From the research at WMS, most of the faculty and students prefer group over individual work, but there is also a good portion that like individual. 

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