Research in science education shows time and time again that students learn more, think more deeply and are more engaged when they work in groups. Justifying ideas to others requires evidence – not just an opinion.
Student groups can be formed by teacher selection (ability, age, gender), student selection (often based on friendship) or a mixture of both considering, for instance, areas of interest.
Students will initially require explicit instructions and practice in how to work collaboratively with others. A key focus is to provide a classroom environment where all students feel safe, supported and valued so that they are willing to take risks with their scientific ideas, to voice their own thoughts and to provide considered responses to others' contributions.
Preview the exercise How did we go? below or print a copy to give you some ideas of areas to focus on with your students as they learn to work collaboratively in teams.