Research Related to Effects of Group Work or Working Together

Categories: Teamwork

HypothesisGroup work is becoming more and more common in schools, as well as job fields. Teachers will split students into groups for assignments, or co-workers will work with one another to come up with new ideas for businesses. In later days, group work or working together on something could be seen as cheating, but nowadays, it’s called collaboration. Even though group work can be a distraction and problematic if the individuals don’t work well together, working together on information problems can be an extremely powerful motivator and result in high qualities of learning.

Group work is better than solving information problems alone, and will result in positive outcomes.


This experiment correlates with Irving L. Janis’s idea called groupthink. Groupthink is the tendency of members in a group to conform to one another, resulting in a narrow view of some issue. With any group, there are going to be differences, but sometimes it feels almost easier to seek agreement, just for the sake of it, which in result closes off other points of view.

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If you have a superior member in the group, it may be hard to express your disagreement, so you conform to what everyone else feels, even if you feel they may be wrong.Background Research Information The study of group work has been studied many times before, but there are still things about it being successful that isn’t fully understood. There are a few theories, however, that suggest why it can be successful.

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Everyone is different and all come from different backgrounds. We all have different skills, experiences, and knowledge. Combining these differences create a broad way to figuring out problems.

This is referred to as “resource pooling”. If ideas are being disagreed upon, it gives individuals the opportunity to reflect on their own analytics of how they came to a solution, reassess their own viewpoints and resolve differences. This is referred to as “sociocognitive conflict”. Working in groups gives individuals the opportunity to verbalize their thoughts, which creates an open discussion of explanations. This can lead to reorganization of thought processes and results in mediated problem solving. This is referred to as “cognitive elaboration”. The last theory is the experience of group work. It can be very important for youth between the ages of 10 and 16 to interact socially with peers. Group work gives them the opportunity to build social skills and can be rather motivating. Research Method In order to determine of group work can lead to positive outcomes, the researcher worked with a middle school science teacher. They randomly sampled 120 grade 7 students at a middle school.

They were placed into groups based on what classroom they were in. There wasn’t a male to female ratio due to random classroom assignments, and only one population of students / age group are being studied. Together, the researcher and teacher developed a two problem based information assignment related to the curriculum of micro-life. For two months, grade 7 students, in the teacher’s science classes, studied microscopic life, microbiomes, diseases prevention, and personal hygiene. To complete the assignment, students conducted research online using classroom computers to answer questions related to their curriculum. The assignment for the students was given to them in a multi-part scenario form. The first scenario was an outbreak at their school of salmonella. Four of the teacher’s science classes participated in the experiment. Two classes of 30 students, completed the assignment individually.

Two other classes completed the assignment in groups of three, using one computer to work together. Two weeks later, the experiment was ran again with a second assignment, but the conditions were reversed: the students who worked alone for the first assignment, worked on the second in groups of three and the students who worked in groups of three, worked alone for the second assignment. After the assignments were examined, a quiz was administered on the curriculum. Sample Questions The assignment questions were not included in the experiment, but with the assignment being research based on salmonella, some sample questions the students were asked the answer could have been: 1. What is Salmonella? 2. What are the two different serotypes of Salmonella? 3. What causes Salmonella? 4. Who is at the highest risk for Salmonella infection? 5. Are there any long term consequences to Salmonella infections? Or any other research related questions about salmonella.

Key Findings The results of this experiment are the opposite of what was expected, based on the theory advantages stated earlier. The experiment found that those students who worked individually did better on the information assignment than those students who worked in groups of three. Although, the difference is not very big, finalizing at a 12% difference or one letter-grade difference, the findings were statistically significant. The results for the second assignment had the same outcome as the first: the students who worked alone showed higher performance than those who worked in groups. Additionally, on the quizzes that were given after the assignments were completed, students who worked in groups had slightly lower post-test scores than those who worked individually.

Again, the difference was small, but the results were consistent across the whole experiment. This data, therefore suggests that working in groups has a negative effect on solving problem based scenarios, using online research, which ultimately negatively affected their learning.  Graphs Although, there are differences in the two groups, there is another thing to make note on. Yes, students who worked individually received higher scores that those who worked in a group, but there should be more of an examination on the way the students’ found their answers. In this study, there was data collected on student performance, but also on how they came up with their answers. Process data was revealed that the students who worked in groups often performed poorly on some questions, but not all.

The questions that the students struggled were on questions that were asked to make inferences from information found online. It was found that when the students were fact-finding, both groups performed the same. When the facts that were found were used to make a decision about a question, that was when the groups performed worse than individual work. Conclusion From the results of this study, a conclusion can be made that group work tends to harm student performance, more than help, therefore students shouldn’t not work together on problem solving assignments. But this might not always the be case. Looking at group work as a process gain is an aspect that makes it a positive experience. An example of this is to have someone else look over your work or suggest something you may not have thought of. There are also several ways that can be done to make group work more productive, such as assigning roles to each member of the group.

This can help build interdependence and eliminate superiority. You can also encourage healthy disagreements, without having arguments. There are many ways that group work can be a positive experience for individuals and it can be made into a motivating social experience, but it doesn’t seem that online resources encourage helping of informed decisions.


MEYERS E. Mediating Group Search: Lessons from a Middle School Study. Teacher Librarian [serial online]. December 2010;38(2):24-29.

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Research Related to Effects of Group Work or Working Together. (2022, Apr 05). Retrieved from

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