By Shazia Hussain | 27 January 2021
You may be asking yourself: what impact could academic and personality profiling have on my studies?
There are many positives to academic profiling, but the two key benefits which ATMC has identified as the most significant are:
- Improving academic performance and as a result, students’ personal progression;
- Influencing students to broaden and enhance their learning experiences.
Research has suggested there are many advantages and disadvantages to grouping students into similar and dissimilar working groups, but the advantages of grouping and profiling students into mixed, diverse groups are significant and can’t be ignored.
When I began exploring the significance of profiling, I came across a lot interesting research and learning theories which very much aligned with ATMC’s education philosophy.
The use of cooperative learning groups is based on the principle of constructivism, with particular attention to the contribution that social interaction can make. Constructivism rests on the idea that individuals learn through building their own knowledge, connecting new ideas to existing knowledge to form new or enhanced understandings.
Cooperative learning uses both goal interdependence and resource interdependence to ensure interaction and communication among group members. Changing the role of the instructor from lecturing to facilitating the group helps this social environment for students to learn through interaction.
ADVANTAGES FOR STUDENTS
Learning experiences in profiled groups such as “assignment circles” can support students in developing skills they will need once they step into the professional world. Students gain a range of positive experiences that contribute to engagement and learning, thus attaining better academic learning experiences on their way to building a wider, more informed outlook of the world they’re stepping into.
Once ATMC began actioning our profiling plan, it came to light how important it was to ensure that, although grouping was encouraged to enable students to self-organise (in turn promoting a culture of preparation and self-learning), a carefully structured approach could not be ignored. We discovered that structured and profiled groups enable students to reinforce skills relevant to both group and individual work, including the ability to:
● Break complex tasks into smaller chunks
● Plan and manage time effectively
● Refine understanding through discussions and improve explanations
● Give and receive constructive feedback
● Challenge assumptions and encourage critical thinking
● Develop stronger communication and research skills
Profiled groups can also help students develop skills specific to collaborative efforts, allowing them to:
● Tackle more complex problems with their group’s support
● Delegate roles and responsibilities
● Share diverse perspectives
● Pool knowledge, skills and expertise
● Hold one another (and be held) accountable
● Receive social support and encourage each other to take risks
● Develop new approaches to conflict resolution
● Establish a shared identity with other group members
● Develop their own voice and perspectives in relation to peers
While the potential learning benefits of group work are significant, simply assigning group work is no guarantee these goals will be achieved. In fact, group projects can – and often do – backfire badly when they’re not designed, supervised and assessed in a way that promotes and supports meaningful, collaborated teamwork.
So, let’s move forward with a positive approach to cooperative learning in our studies and problem solving – without the need for each individual to be responsible for understanding all aspects of a collaborative project.
Shared learning is so powerful in that it removes learning pressure, enables time efficiency and shares knowledge and expertise, all of which leads to improved academic outcomes.
(Shazia Hussain is an Innovator in Education, an Edtech and Futuristic Thinker, Philomath, EdD Researcher and Crypto Enthusiast.)