CL1 - More Information: Types of Groups




Types of groups

Many types of groups can be used. Three examples (informal, formal, and base) are described below.

Informal groups can,

    have a short lifetime ranging from a few minutes to the class period
    are generally created quickly or ad hoc, (e.g., the instructor may say "discuss this concept" or "discuss this question with your neighbors"),
    have little structure or format,
    have new group members with each new class day,
    are especially useful during lectures because it can break the lecture in mini-lectures, and
    may provide a quick check on student comprehension.

Formal groups on the other hand,

    last several days to several weeks,
    require more planning as to the size and composition of the group,
    have greater structure,
    have a specific purpose (e.g., a particular task to accomplish), and
    have the same group members throughout its existence.

Finally, base groups serve a broader purpose. They

    last the entire semester (or even several semesters),
    meet regularly,
    require planning as to the size and composition of the group,
    personalize the task at hand by providing support, encouragement, and assistance between group members
    have a specific purpose (e.g., a particular task to complete), and
    have a constant membership.

Each type of group has its purpose, along with its advantages and disadvantages. These issues and others will be discussed further.

Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., and Smith, K. A. (1998). Active learning: Cooperation in the college classroom. Edina, MN: Interaction Book Company.

Nurrenbern, S. (1995). Experiences in cooperative learning: A collection for chemistry teachers. Institute for Chemical Education, University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, Madison, WI.

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