Discuss the Advantages and Disadvantages of Working in a Group.

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Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of working in a group.

A group is more than just a number of people. According to The Oxford Paperback English Dictionary it’s “ a number of people gathered, placed, or classed together for some purpose”. Group work; therefore consist establishing and maintaining a cohesive group, working to achieve common aim. Brown (1994 p.8) definition of group work, states that ” it provides a context in which individuals help each other; it is a method of helping groups as well as helping individuals; and it can enable individuals and groups to influence and change personal, group, organisational and community problems”. Importance of group work being recognized by colleges and universities, and incorporated into their learning programmes for various reasons. Some of them believe ,that group work offers support to their students-sharing the workload makes it easier. Some, through group activities aims to prepare students for the future professional life. Others feel that we are inter-dependent beings, and learn best through interaction, and discussion. But despite its benefits, group work can be one of the most stressful, and emotionally exhausting part of student’s life. According to Burns and Sinfield ” Many students see only problems associated with working in a group. Perhaps because they never get heard in the group, perhaps because they usually do all the work-whatever the problem, group work makes them unhappy” This essay will discuss advantages and disadvantages of a group work.

Firstly, the biggest advantage of collaborative work is sharing the workload. Task or project is much easier to complete if shared amongst participants, than if it had to be carried out by one person. Group is able to achieve something that each individual working alone might not be, and tackle wider spectrum, and greater difficulty of problems than the capabilities of an individual person. There is a saying, that ” many hands make light work.” which perfectly describes purpose of a group work.

Secondly, another advantage of group work is creativity. Group brings together people with differing expertise, different knowledge and perspectives. Discussing task or assignment, group members generates many ideas. Utilising different aspects of the group, best idea is chosen and evaluated, which lead to fresh and innovative solutions to complex problem or difficult tasks. Brainstorming in the group encourage students to challenge assumptions, and everyone has a chance to contribute ideas. This process promotes creative thinking, and active participation in learning. Because we are all different while speaking one mind is stimulating another one, and that is how the best ideas and solutions usually comes up.

Thirdly, role-playing and preparation for workplace. Group dynamic requires that each member will have certain role to play in reaching a common target. Roles have to be distributed to ensure effective contribution from each member of the group. According to Belbins (1991) research, effective group consist members playing following roles: a leader, a shaper, a plant, a critic, a liaison person, a practical person, a team worker, and finisher. However, one person may carry out several of these roles simultaneously. Role-play teaches group members to deal with challenges or criticism, to be tolerant and to adjust their attitude, improving diplomacy, speaking and listening skills, and understanding others point of view. It also provides experience, preparing students for future workplace. Ability to teamwork is very valued by potential employer.

Fourthly, group work advantage is support it offers to group members. Working on the difficult task alone might be hard and overwhelming. Group through its structure provide support in the time of crisis, helping to keep up morale. Mutual support and fact that all group members experiencing the same problems create comfort and feeling that group members can rely...
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