The benefits of individual versus group work in a biology based laboratory setting

Author/s:

Cronin, Michael
University College Cork, Ireland (m.cronin@ucc.ie)

McCabe, Anthony*
Institute of Technology Sligo, Ireland (mccabe.tony@itsligo.ie)

Abstract:

Laboratory science classes and group work are almost inextricably linked in student college life today. The merits of both are extolled by both educators and future employers as a fundamental part of a rounded qualified graduate. However, there is little evidence to the contrary, particularly in laboratory based programs. This study aims to determine the students’ perception of the benefits of different working scenarios in a biological laboratory setting. The study followed 32 students in their third year of their college program working in three different biology based laboratory classes. During each of these laboratory classes the students either worked alone, worked with a preferred partner or worked with an assigned partner. The students were asked to grade their experiences in a survey. The students were asked to reflect on the following areas: enjoyment of experience, understanding of activities, laboratory technique and time efficiency. Mixed modal analysis of variance and pair-wise analyses were used to determine significance between the differing work group scenarios. The laboratory group make-up had no impact on the student enjoyment of the laboratory class. There was also no significant impact on the students’ ability to perform the laboratory exercise in a time efficient manner. The analysis did however indicate that students who work alone or with their preferred partner have a greater understanding of the subject matter against those who worked with an assigned partner. The results also suggest that students who worked alone had significantly improved laboratory technique compared to student working in a group.

Keywords: working alone; technique; teamwork; individual

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5861/ijrse.2017.1723

*Corresponding Author