Group Project Work and Student-centred Active Learning: two different experiences
This article compares two experiences of group-based student projects in a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) degree and in Geography degree modules. The two authors adopted group projects from similar motivations, and used available materials to guide them through this process. Subsequently, they have come to reflect on the experience and to examine the theoretical dimensions of such an approach in more detail. There seems to be a discrepancy between the literature, which emphasises a growing interest in the socio-educational value of group-based and active learning, and the concerns voiced by both students and academics regarding the practical implications of such approaches. Analysis of grades and questionnaires tends to support the literature and belie the criticisms, which the authors see as 'myths', possibly motivated by a defensive attitude to the whole learning process. The conclusions are that, if care is not taken in the design and execution of such projects, then the problems that may ensue can reinforce the 'myths'. However, if carefully and appropriately designed and managed, team-based learning is a valuable experience.
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