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Summary: Group Work and Presentations

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  • Clarity about what the purpose of the group is and what it needs to achieve.
  • Working with new people can be hard for many students.
  • Students’ ability to empathise with others and/or pick up on verbal and non-verbal cues.
  • Ensuring groups are accessible to all in terms of where they meet and pace of work.
  • Attitudes of some students to others can cause difficulties.
  • Some students may have concern about their ability to fully participate.

What do we mean by group work and presentations?

Group working in all its forms can be seen as a valuable way to engage students in discussion and debate, building and reinforcing understanding and ownership, generating new ideas and overcoming misunderstandings. Group working helps to develop key skills such as critical thinking, communication, facilitation, presentation and decision-making.

Likewise, presentations enable students to showcase their presentation design skills, condensing complex arguments into coherent and bite sized oral and visual content. Presentations also illustrate a student’s communication skills and understanding of audience. The audience may be a tutor, other students or invited guests.   

Benefits of group work and presentations

Over and above those outlined above, group working offers the following benefits:

  • Development of transferable employability and academic skills
  • Collaborative learning – sharing perspectives and experiences.
  • Encouraging deeper learning e.g. what is required from a task or assignment.
  • Active learning
  • Personalising the experience of students in large student cohorts – breaking them into smaller groups where collaborative learning can take place.
  • Building friendships and peer learning
  • Enhancing academic achievement

Some of the general concerns and issues

Students may face difficulties in group working situations in a number of ways:

Students may face difficulties in presentation situations in a number of ways:

  • Presentation anxiety
  • Barriers to them following their materials.
  • A one size fits all methodology – assumptions made about how to present.
  • Past experience of negative feedback concerning eye contact.
  • Not being able to accurately read the audiences reaction.

Points for reflection

  • How does your practice support the needs of students with regard to group work and presentations?
  • What changes to teaching and learning strategies could you make in these situations? Might you do things differently?
  • Who do you need to involve in order to make support for students effective?
  • What are the main barriers to you accommodating students’ needs with regard to group work and presentations? How can these be overcome?

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