Group learning: The psychology and why it works best

Group learning: The psychology and why it works best

Much research has been devoted to the phenomenon of group or collaborative learning in recent years. The consensus is that studying with a group of peers of similar ability is more effective than individual learning.

But what’s the psychology behind group learning? And why does it work? Read on to discover how you can take advantage of group learning opportunities to improve your GCSE grades.

Interaction and participation enhances understanding

If you’re learning in a one-to-one session, or with a large group of diverging abilities, you’ll often find there isn’t much scope for interaction.

In a one-to-one session, the knowledge gap between you and your tutor often seems too great to generate much discussion. While in a larger group, the differing abilities limit meaningful interaction.

However, in a small group of peers with a similar level of understanding, you’ll have far greater opportunity for interaction, asking questions and responding to discussion around a particular topic.

As a result of this interaction, you’ll gain far more in terms of understanding, especially where the subject matter – a complicated mathematical concept or a new interpretation of a text, for example – requires analysis.

In fact, seeing how other students tackle a problem can have a huge impact on the way that you learn, opening your eyes to new ideas and ways of thinking.

The relaxed style of group learning builds confidence to express your ideas

If you’re feeling anxious or nervous, you’re not likely to be taking in new information or concepts at your optimum level.

A formal classroom setting can seem intimidating, especially if you’re unsure of whether you’re giving the ‘right’ answer. Equally, if you’re having one-to-one tutoring, the absolute focus on you is often unnerving.

However, group learning – for example, in a group tutoring session – is often more informal. You’re not the sole focus of the mentor or tutor, so you don’t feel the pressure to be constantly providing the answers. However, when you do feel that you want to contribute, you’re not scared of giving the ‘wrong’ answer.

The result? You’ll enjoy learning and build confidence to express your thoughts and ideas, as well as raise queries and learn different approaches to answering questions. In fact, you might just surprise yourself at the extent of your contribution.

Healthy competition is a huge motivator

Let’s be honest. Everyone wants to be the best. In the classroom, there will generally be one student at least who tends to excel at a particular subject more than you.

But in a group environment, surrounded by peers of similar ability, you will find yourself wanting to do better, not just for your own sake but also for the satisfaction of having defeated worthy opponents.

Of course, you want your peers to do well in their exams too. And you’ll be amazed at how satisfying it is to discover that you and your fellow group learning students have achieved your targets.

Social interaction is crucial for personal (as well as educational) progression

Socialising with your peers is an essential part of growing up. Of course, you’ll be used to the social interaction inside the four walls of a classroom. However, group learning offers the opportunity to develop outside of this prescribed environment.

Group participation becomes increasingly important as you move into higher education. What’s more, meeting other students outside your friendship group at school is incredibly conducive to learning, as you’ll have your eyes opened to new ways of thinking.

Learning as part of a group is more cost effective

If you’re the one responsible for paying for extra-curricular learning sessions, you obviously want to be reassured that you’re getting the best possible value for money.

Group learning typically costs less than one-to-one tuition. So not only will you be gaining from an enhanced learning environment. You (or your parents!) will also be saving in the long run.

Your concerns about group learning addressed

Of course, it’s natural to be worried. We’ve set out some common concerns about group learning, and what you can do to overcome them

– Some students will overtake a discussion while others remain quiet and hide behind the group – This is always a danger. However, you just need to remember that no one is judging you. You’re in a group of similar abilities and everyone has their strengths and weaknesses

– You won’t be able to keep up without individual help – If you’re worried that you’re falling behind, you need to shout! Don’t be afraid to speak to your tutor after your session, or email them if you’d prefer. Our TPT method ensures that we’ll quickly realise if you are struggling and require additional help

– Your relationship with your tutor will be less personal than with a one-to-one session – This is the nature of group learning, and the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. However, you’ll be in regular face-to-face and email contact with your tutor, so will be able to build a bond

Want to know more about how GT tutoring sessions will facilitate your GCSE success?

At GT, we’re firm believers in the power of group learning. Our unique TPT approach (45 minutes of teaching, 45 minutes of interactive problem solving, 45 minutes of testing) means that your tutor will quickly realise whether or not you’ve grasped a specific topic.

Sound like the approach for you? Get in touch to discover more about how we can help you succeed, whatever your ability or predicted grade.