In my work as a student teacher and graduate teaching assistant, I’ve found that group work is a highly effective tool for teaching and learning.
Cooperative group activities are beneficial because they give students an opportunity to bounce ideas and understanding off of their peers. By working together, students are thinking through the problems aloud. And in doing so, one student may offer knowledge and perspective that another student was lacking.
This is an effective teaching/learning practice because the knowledge gap between students is often much smaller than it is between the teacher and students. The bigger the gap, the more difficult it can be to relay knowledge.
Group activities can be especially helpful in solving challenging word problems that offer the student a large amount of information to digest and encode. At any level, this is more easily done as a team. Finally, working together allows students to observe and learn how others may approach these problems and develop or improve their own problem‐solving strategies.