Meet Dean Brooks (USA) – McIntire School of Commerce, UvA

 

The importance of group work

While the thought of group work incites feelings of dread, anxiety, and frustration in many of us, it is nevertheless a key aspect of preparing to join the workforce and an important part of personal and professional development.

At the McIntire School of Commerce, there is a big emphasis on group work and group projects. “You really need to be open in your collaboration with other people to be successful here at McIntire,” Dean says. In fact, in four of his six classes, grades are based on the group.

Is group work actually valuable?

The short answer is yes. Working in groups has a multitude of benefits, including allowing students to tackle more complex problems than they could on their own, delegating roles and responsibilities, holding each other accountable, getting support to take risks, and developing their own voice in relation to peers.

When it comes to mathematics, specifically, studies show that students who study mathematics in group work comprehend problems in a better way, put forward new ideas, and apply what they understand instead of simply memorizing formulas.

The benefits of collaboration

Needless to say, working in groups develops collaboration skills. Dean declares, “To have the ability to work effectively with other people, understand their viewpoints, [and] take into account your biases to really work effectively as a group is a really important skill to have.” (04:18)

The research supports Dean’s point. In one study, researchers list over 50 benefits of collaboration, which include:

  • Helps to develop a social support system for learners.
  • Establishes a positive atmosphere for modeling and practicing cooperation.
  • Increases students’ self-esteem.
  • Reduces anxiety.
  • Promotes critical thinking skills.

“A big part of McIntire is having an open discussion where everyone’s input is valued,” Dean says. With skills like collaboration and communication often cited as crucial 21st-century skills, McIntire’s emphasis on community and group work demonstrates the school’s clear commitment to helping students build and nurture these valuable skills.

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