Group work for belonging

Group work can be an excellent way of building a sense of identity or belonging among students. However, the skills needed to work effectively in groups have to be learnt and taught.


  • You can use the headings in this guidance sheet from BCU to help you to structure a workshop with your course team.
  • The workshop will focus on the actions teachers in an HE can take to make the value and purpose of group work explicit to students. This will enable the students to build up on the skills they will need to be able to work effectively in this way in the future.


Why use group work in class?

o Effective
o Social and collaborative skills
o Staff-student interactions

Before starting any group work
o Make the reasons for group work explicit
o Are your students ready for working effectively in groups?
 Trust
 Roles
 Decision making within the group
 General rules
o Group size and membership
 About 4-6
 Size/layout of the room
 Different possibilities of choosing group members
 Get students in group before giving them the task

Explaining the task
 Clearly: what, when, expectations
 Check list
 Questions

During group work
o Circulate
o Have high expectations
o Practice what you preach

After group work
o Plenary time
o Group reports
o Predict possible student responses and prepare responses
o Offer praise and recognition

When is group work not suitable
Will your activity be challenging enough to facilitate high levels of engagement among all group members? E.g. four people sitting at a computer could produce high levels of disengagement.

Source: Birmingham City University