The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This common saying encourages students, professionals, and siblings to work together. And it makes sense, right? Together, we have more resources and can create bigger and better things. But then why do some things work better individually?
And does “teamwork REALLY make the dream work?” Again, the answer is not a simple yes regarding online education. While there are benefits to working together in groups, there are also benefits to individualized instruction. At Zinkerz, we determine the best approach for each student to decide which course will work and if they should be one-on-one, in a group, or a combination of both options. We know there is no one-size fits all learning solution. We list some factors we consider when developing courses and study plans below.
What are the benefits of working in groups?
Hearing questions and perspectives, you may not have had by yourself.
In a group setting, you may think you understand a topic or concept, but then hear a question someone has to ask and realize you had the same question too. This allows you to develop a deeper understanding of the topic and may lead to additional questions, thoughts, or insights. Maybe further questions will stem from someone else, and then a spiral effect occurs. No matter what, hearing other people’s questions can only help one understand a topic.
Builds skills for working with groups.
Participants will not always agree with a group, and that is okay. Disagreement creates inspired conversations and increases one’s ability to analyze and defend a point critically. Backing up your point with supporting evidence is a valuable skill, so the more practice you have, the better you become. In addition, working in groups requires listening, speaking, and respect. These skills are imperative in work, friendships, and life and should never be underestimated.
Pooling knowledge expands creativity.
Starting with one person’s idea, adding to it, changing it, and then redeveloping it is critical to progress… whether in education or technology. Working in a team allows for this because one person cannot know everything. In a group, you might have a problem solver, a “big picture” person, and a detail-oriented person. This allows for the concept’s various facets to be discussed and analyzed. This advancement is required in group coding classes, where students collaborate to create and modify programs.
Build bonds and motivation.
Group classes, by default, create a small community of people. Online, this community is critical. Having shared experiences and goals helps motivate us. Zinkerz offers AP courses with group classes as part of the course setup. This creates a learning community where everyone feels they are on this journey together. Students may become discouraged, overwhelmed, or unmotivated… but the constant access to the group community and team at Zinkerz pulls students through these times and allows for an easy “Reset” mindset. At Zinkerz, or infamous MARATHONS (both online and in-person) are notorious for creating a community of people who push each other to do better and be their best selves.
What are the challenges of group learning?
There are some hurdles in group learning environments, but they are not necessarily bad. What we see as hurdles can also benefit all students in the classroom.
We do not personalize the curriculum for each individual.
In groups, the educator must focus on the entire group and ensure all students are learning. This means one student may need to review additional topics while others may not. However, this is not always a bad thing. Hearing a topic, you think you have a complete mastery of explained again can only create added understanding. A seasoned educator, like those teaching Zinkerz group classes, can adapt the lesson to meet the needs of all students in the group.
Some courses are more beneficial as a one-on-one class.
For standardized test preparation, countless variables factor into the study plan. Because of this, Zinkerz SAT/ACT and other standardized test courses focus on individual classes. This allows us to adapt every lesson to meet the unique needs of each student.
Pacing can be challenging.
Because students learn at different paces and even write at different paces, pacing can be a hurdle in group classes. Some educators adapt by posting lesson notes so students can focus on the content, not the note-taking. Students may also benefit from watching a class video recording to ensure they missed nothing. The notes and videos are essential to allowing all students to keep up with group classes. That is why Zinkerz AP classes have them!
To group or not to group…
What works best for your child? Most students flourish with a variety of learning opportunities, so creating ones where they can have some group and some individual classes will benefit them. Allow them time to work in large and small groups AND individually. At Zinkerz, our top-scoring-producing AP courses offer a hybrid approach. Students learn significant concepts in small group lectures to get the main ideas and create conversation. They then have individual classes to hone their skills and target instruction to their strengths and weaknesses. In addition, the weekend reviews and marathon prep sessions in larger groups allow for community and creativity. These indeed are the best of all worlds.
Standardized test preparation for students from different school backgrounds can be more challenging to navigate in groups. That is why our innovative classes are done individually to target specific areas and the pacing of each student… and to meet them at their starting place. However, collaboration and group work are still crucial to skill development. Zinkerz encourages students to participate in marathon review sessions to work together to prepare for the exam.
To put it briefly, there is no single optimal approach. Every student needs to know the learning style that works best for them. Exposing them to various modes of education will only improve their capabilities for the future when everything can no longer be personalized for them.