ERIC Number: ED377402
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Nov
Using Small Learning Groups in Graduate Education.
McElhinney, Jim; Murk, Peter J.
Using small learning groups in graduate education is a way to prepare learners to meet the challenges they face as professionals and to enrich and facilitate adult learning in ways that cannot be accomplished as well by members working alone. This technique also helps graduate students develop the skills needed to work productively as group members. The most effective use for small groups is in researching and learning experiences that do not have well-structured processes and only one right answer so that the experiences and strengths of various group members can be used to solve problems or create projects. Examples of profitable group learning situations with graduate students include courses in which students learn to write grants or conduct program evaluation. Maturity, the ability of group members to respect each others' feelings and viewpoints, and managing conflict are qualities needed by members of successful learning groups. Group learning has several strengths: increasing group members' confidence, increased knowledge through exchange of ideas, increased creativity through shared responsibility, and the opportunity for people to get to know others in work settings. Limitations to group learning include the uneven contributions of group members, the knowledge levels of group participants, and the difficulty of evaluating performance and assigning grades. Instructors of small groups of graduate students should step back and assume the role of facilitator, offering help only when group members cannot solve their own problems. (Contains 22 references.) (KC)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (Nashville, TN, November 2-5, 1994).