Group Formation for Small-Group Learning: Are Heterogeneous Groups More Productive?

Title: Group Formation for Small-Group Learning: Are Heterogeneous Groups More Productive?

Authors: Astrid Wichmann (Ruhr-University Bochum), Tobias Hecking (University of Duisburg-Essen), Malte Elson, Nina Christmann, Thomas Herrmann (Ruhr-University Bochum), and H. Ulrich Hoppe (University of Duisburg-Essen)

Abstract: There is an underexploited potential in enhancing massive online learning courses through small-group learning activities. Size and diversity allow for optimizing group composition in small-group tasks. The purpose of this paper was to investigate how groups formed based on learner behavior affect productivity of students in a small-group task. Students classified as high, average and low were randomly assigned to homogeneous or heterogeneous groups. Results indicate that overall, heterogeneous groups were either similarly or a bit more productive than homogeneous groups. Yet, we found that homogeneous groups classified as high-level were as or more than heterogeneous groups. However, heterogeneous groups were still more productive than homogeneous-average and homogeneous-low groups suggesting heterogeneous groups are the best choice for the entire community. Students classified as low-level were more productive in homogeneous groups, suggesting that grouping less active students together, makes social loafing more difficult and students participate more.

This contribution to OpenSym 2016 will be made available as part of the OpenSym 2016 proceedings on or after August 17, 2016.

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