Group work at university

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Nicola Dimelow's Conference Paper at Higher Education and Research and Scholarship Group Annual Conference 2012

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  • Dr Ann Walker had the original concept and Dr Lisa Reidy supported the process.
  • Australian study using qualitative and quantitative methods to assess group work experiences in business students .Quantative analysis suggest the majority report a positive experience.Qualitative reports detail the positive aspects.
  • A large minority report less than satisfactory expereinces of group work adn qualitative analysis reveal 3 fundamental factors contributing to this. Much of the literature of group work demonstrates the frustrating issue with free riders or social loafers which are defined by Burdett as those individuals who fail to contribute to the aactivities of the group but who benefit from the contributions of others who they believe will provide success in the task.Pauli assessed reasons for negative group work experiences by designing an questionnaire specifically aimed at negative experiences of group work. this instrument was named the Negative group Work Experiences questionnaire. Some of these aspects including isolation and gossiping could be viewed as a form of bullying behaviour. So what do we know about bullying within the University environment?
  • The is persistent evidence of bullying in the school environment. Furthermore, this behaviour is reflected in the work place. All leadership styles predicted the experience of bullying yet autocratic style was strongest predictor.
  • Reminders were sent out and posters were put up in the learning centre at Collegiate campus and the help desk. Furthermore there was a notice put on blackboard under the learning essentials tab. Due to timing issues the response was possibly lower than expected but still provided adequate data.
  • As can be seen a majority report positive experiences yet a large minority of 36% do not agree with the statement that their experience was positive.
  • Positive experiences:63.8% strongly agree/agree that group work experience has been positive60.3% groups worked well togetherGroup work provides a basis for skill development including negotiation (70.7% strongly agree/agree) and conflict resolution( 61.4% strongly agree/agree).
  • 81% had group problems as deadlines approached.89.5% had issues with individual members not completing work.53.4% experienced members falling out to some extentOther experiences included gossiping (55.6%) and members not talking to each other (44.8%)47.4% reported tutor selected groups to be more problematic.10.2% had observed some form of bullying or harassment in group workThe dark blue columns represent possible bullying style behaviours whilst the pink is actual reported bullying or harassment in group work.
  • Group work at university

    1. 1. Presentation by Nicola Dimelow BSc (Student researcher and Masters student)
    2. 2.  Overview of the pilot study Background research Aim and research questions Method Results Discussion Conclusion
    3. 3. University? Bullying and Group harassment work Negative PositiveSchool Work experience experience
    4. 4.  Positive experiences. 57 % business students reported group work was positive. (Burdett, 2003) generating ideas social aspect improved learning ability reduced workload better grades
    5. 5.  Negative experiences 43% had negative experiences (Burdett, 2003) Unequal contribution to the task including "free riding"(social loafing) Difficulty in arranging meetings Lack of support from tutors Pauli et al (2008) reported similar findings using Negative Group Work Experience (NGWE)survey ◦ lack of group commitment ◦ task disorganisation ◦ Storming- including arguments, gossiping and falling out ◦ Fractionated Group- including isolation
    6. 6.  Definition: repeated exposure to negative actions by one or more people (Olweus, 1993) School environment prevalence of 9-32% (Green et al, 2012) Workplace bullying is increasing (Lewis, 2004). predicted by leadership style (Hoel et al, 2010) University Cyberbullying (Schenk, & Fremouw, 2012) There are no sex differences in experiences of indirect aggression or victimization (Leenaars & Rinaldi, 2010) Little research and non focused specifically at group work.
    7. 7.  Definition: when an individual contributes less to a task than other group members but benefits from the rewards associated with it. A recurrent theme in group work literature (Myers,2009). However, to our knowledge, there has been no research investigating the reasons for reduced contribution from the perspective of the perceived Social Loafer It is possible that the individual is avoiding a negative situation.
    8. 8.  Aim: to assess the processes of bullying behaviour specifically during group work. Questions:  What are SHU students perceptions of group work experiences? Are bullying (harassment) behaviours observed in group work? To what extent is perceived social loafing (free loading), associated with group work, a result of avoidance behaviour to bullying?
    9. 9.  All psychology and criminology students at Sheffield Hallam University were emailed an invitation to complete the online questionnaire. 66 responded (85.9% female) and 58 completed the survey. Similar response rate from all levels.
    10. 10.  Online Questionnaire(26 questions 2 being qualitative)including ◦ Demographic data (12 questions) ◦ Group work positive experiences ◦ Group work negative experiences including a modified version of Negative Group Work Experience (Pauli,2008) ◦ Observations of bullying and harassment during group work. ◦ Reasons for reduced contributions to the task (social loafing/free loading)
    11. 11.  General experiences of group work ◦ positive - improved skills ◦ negative- negative behaviours Social Loafing
    12. 12. Response to comment "my experience of group work has been positive" 12% 12% strongly agree agree 24% disagree strongly disagree 52%
    13. 13. Positive reports of group work experiences (in percentages)10080604020 0 worked well improved conflict resolution project management listen to other together negotiation skills skills peoples views
    14. 14. Reported negative experiences during group work (in percentages)100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 problems as individuals gossiping not talking bullying or falling out I did most of deadlines not to each other harrassment the work approached completing their share of the work
    15. 15.  Reduced contribution to task: 28.1% (n=16)admitted to contributing less to a group assignment ◦ not understanding the task (25%), ◦ preference to working alone (37.5%), ◦ other students being more intelligent (25%), ◦ negative group behaviours (12.5%), ◦ members not listening to ideas (18.8%) ◦ too many other commitments (18.8%)
    16. 16. ◦ There was a large minority who had negative experiences of group work◦ Group work provides an environment for bullying behaviours◦ It could tentatively be argued that some perceived social loafing is due to perceived bullying behaviours.
    17. 17.  Mainly referred to unequal contribution but other comments included left ignored comments over Facebook anxiety meant I avoided social situations dread having to do group work in the future
    18. 18.  Group work has many positive aspects however when tutors are designing the task they need to ◦ Be available to individuals who are experiencing difficulties ◦ Set up a code of conduct for collaborative working ◦ Consider if it is fair to have group work tasks that are assessed
    19. 19.  Thank you
    20. 20.  Burdett, J. (2003). Making groups work: University students perceptions. International Educational Journal,4, 177-191. Green, J.G., Dunn, E.C., Johnson, R.M., & Molnar, B.E. (2012). A multilevel investigation of the association between school context and adolescent nonphysical bullying. Journal of School Violence, 10, 133-149. Hoel, H., Glaso, L., Hetland, J., Cooper, C.L., & Einarsen, S. (2010). leadership styles as predictors of self reported and observed workplace bullying. British Journal of Management, 21, 453-468. Lewis, D. (2010). Bullying at work: the impact of shame among university and college lecturers . British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 32, 281-299. Leenaars, L., & Rinaldi, C.M. (2010). Male and female university students experiences of indirect aggression. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 25, 131-148. Myers, S.A., et al.(2009). Dealing with slackers in college classroom work groups. College Student Journal, 43, 592-598. Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. oxford, England: Blackwell. Pauli, R., Mohiyeddini, C., Bray, D., Michie, F., & Street, B. (2007). Individual differences in negative group work experiences in collaborative student learning. Educational Psychology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology, 28, 47-58. Schenk, A. M., & Fremouw, W.J. (2012). Prevalance, psychological impact and coping of cyberbully victims among college students. Journal of School Violence, 11, 21-37. Skogstad, A., Torsheim, T., Einarsen, S., & Hauge, L.J. (2011). testing the work environment hypothesis of bullying on a group level analysis: Psychological factors as precursors of observed workplace bullying. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 60, 475-495.

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