Group therapy

August 29, 2003

I was not surprised to read in Peter Levin's article ("Team virgins fear an orgy of togetherness", THES , August 15) that "assigning students to a project and leaving them to get on with it is more likely to leave an enduring distaste of teamwork". Students need to be "taught" and to practise working effectively in groups.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has backed several projects to develop methods and materials to improve group work in various contexts.

One example is Assessing Group Practice, a consortium project of six institutions led by the Central School of Speech and Drama, which seeks to pinpoint what makes group work problematic in the performing arts and how to redress this through innovative assessment. Whether we like it or not, students are assessment led. When students realise that their contribution to group projects matters, their attitude changes. They become keen to use methods that can improve their performance.

Innovations in the mode of assessment, however, must be supported by staff development. This requires institutional commitment and funding. If this is forthcoming, I agree with Levin that "nothing but good can come of it".

Cordelia Bryan
Project director
Assessing Group Practice

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