How to Make Group Work Not Suck: Scaffolding the Collaborative Process through Agency and Self-Regulation

Credit: iStock.com/Nikada
Credit: iStock.com/Nikada
Employers love collaborators. Communities needs collaborators. Democracy requires collaboration. Students hate collaboration. And faculty feel . . . well . . . meh? We know that collaboration is powerful. We know that it both provides students with skills they need and deepens their learning by exposing them to viewpoints different from their own. But is it worth the hassle? There are the freeloaders, of course—the students that ride on the efforts of their peers. Then there are the controllers, those folks who assume their peers are going to freeload and so take over the projects, bossing people around and making everyone miserable. Between the two, every time we assign collaboration, we’re bound to have students showing up during office hours: “Someone in my group isn’t doing enough.” “So-and-so is doing too much.” “Everyone is either doing too much or not enough, and I’m starting to feel like a kid with divorced parents, stuck in the middle and loving it not so much.”

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