The Myth of Group Work in Learning & Creativity

Does group work result in more effective learning, better creativity and generally overall greater work productivity?

To be normal, Carl Jung Quote

So is it better to work in the group or is it better to go it alone? Most teachers and employers promote and encourage group work in the class room and the office. It is a common belief that learning and creativity is enhanced in group situations where students and work colleagues can interact and throw ideas around in that group.

However results from decades of study and research show this is not actually true.

Better Learning?

There is an idea that working in groups with plenty of social engagement increases learning productivity. The truth is other people often become a distraction from learning. Many people are also less often to speak up in group situation. They may feel self conscious and afraid of looking stupid, so they will just keep quiet, less likely to ask questions and not contribute.

Better Creativity?

An idea of increasing creativity in the work place and in schools is group work. Throwing back and forth ideas to enhance creativity is being adopted more and more, however does it work?

In reality studies suggest groups actually reduce and even block creativity. With other people comes many distractions, constant noise and talking can prevent deeper levels of thinking, and this deep level thinking is often where the best creative ideas come from.

With more people also comes more egos, people just looking to get ahead, looking to get noticed and talking over other people. Some will even try domineering and bully tactics to talk down the views and opinions of others.

Those with more assertive personality types will often gain attention, this assertiveness often gets confused with confidence/competence. The ideas from the loudest people will often get taken more seriously, however it doesn’t mean they are the best ideas.

Introverts are often the most creative of the personality types and introverts usually perform better when working alone. Introverts also tend to be high reactive and more sensitive to certain distractions and situations. Introverts are also less comfortable speaking up in group situations and are more prone to suffering stresses and anxieties due to group environments.

So group work will likely reduce the contribution that the introverts in the group may make.

Another big factor is conformity. When a popular idea is suggested, many people will simply fall in line and conform with the rest of the group. This leads to more original and perhaps better ideas being left unsaid or overlooked.

Open Office Plan Design

More and more companies are designing their offices and work areas with more of an open plan design, removing barriers and possible hiding areas.

Employers love the open work area design because it maximizes office space, plus it allow managers to better keep an eye on its employees.

However open plan offices lead to more distractions, sound and visual distractions which can harm learning, creativity and general productiveness.

Also the lack of privacy can also increase blood pressure, stresses and anxieties among some employees.

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