Group work and extracurricular activities are important for learning in the universities as they empower students with extra skills, which cannot be acquired through instructor-led discussions and traditional lectures. Most instructors recognize the importance of assigning students with tasks to perform in groups. Universities have also placed a lot of emphasis on extra-curricular activities by requiring every student to be, at least, a member of two clubs or societies upon joining the universities.
These measures serve to illustrate the growing importance of group work and extra-curricular activities to the overall development of a student.
Importance of group work
Group work forms an important supplement to lectures in the colleges. It helps students in mastering complex concepts that require complex applications and critical thinking skills. In an academic environment, learners are taken through the same steps by their lecturers with an assumption that by the end of the class they will all have mastered the concepts taught. However, this is not always the case. In order to ensure that students store the concepts in their memories, the lecturers should assign extra work to be done through collaborative learning. Research indicates that students who do their assignments in groups master the concepts better than those who do them individually. Donald Kennedy, a professor of Biological Sciences, observed that students who work in groups do a great deal for one another. This is because groups create an environment where students can learn from one another. Complex tasks are broken into small parts that are shared among the students based on ability. The students then explain their given tasks to group members. The shared concepts are analyzed to establish the authenticity of the process used to arrive at the answers. One student’s weakness is compensated by another student’s strength, hence, all the students benefit. The activities of discussion and explanation in group work allow for a fine understanding of concepts. It is, therefore, important that instructors tap into this method by creating opportunities that encourage or allow collaborative learning to occur.
Group work activities allow students to develop skills of planning and managing time. For effective completion of tasks, the group members must allocate time for every activity. While it is easy to procrastinate tasks when working individually, group work makes it complex, as one has to consult every member of the group to avoid inconveniencing them. Students, therefore, develop the skills to accomplish tasks within the time provided. The planning skill is developed when students meet and assign each other roles and the time needed to accomplish them. Besides, there is increased efficiency in completion of tasks not only on the students’ side, but also on the side of the instructors. Group work allows a lot of work to be covered within a short time. The time used in this case is shorter as compared to the time used when one person tries to muddle through a complex procedure that they do not understand well. The skill of planning and managing time will be important both at the university and in the students’ career.
Group work allows students to become active by developing cooperative and collaborative skills. Accomplishing tasks in a group requires that everybody participates. Students are assigned tasks that will require them to conduct research and present their findings for analysis. The small working groups accord the quiet students an opportunity to share their knowledge and be heard, thus overcoming the passivity and anonymity that is associated with large groups. The students will also develop positive communication skills that will be relevant and benefit them throughout their lives. The students are relaxed when sharing their opinions since group work in class offer an environment of support, cooperation, and trust. The relaxed atmosphere encourages the transfer of previous knowledge and learning. The group approach also facilitates cooperation and interaction on a micro-scale, hence, decreasing the sense of isolation normally felt by some students.
Grouped students have the chance of interacting with students from different backgrounds. The diverse backgrounds allow them to get different perspectives, approaches, skills, culture, and to participate in unique ways.
Benefits of extracurricular activities
Most students put great effort in their studies to pass exams and get promoted to the next class. There is evidence that a number of university students are not able to express themselves appropriately during job interviews even after scoring highly in their university exams. The students, therefore, lose the chance to get employed due to their speaking skills. There are other students who perform well in their studies, but are not interested in sports, making them physically inactive. Students should strive to gain an all-round development that will make them excel both physically and mentally.
Exams and results only reflect a part of knowledge. Students should, therefore, strive to participate in extracurricular activities because it will help in building their personality. University authorities need to encourage the students to participate in extracurricular activities both in school occasions and outside the school. The students get an opportunity to learn a lot of things that will be helpful in their future. Students can participate in paper reading, debates, presentations, dance and singing, group discussions, sports, quizzes, and essay writing.
Extracurricular activities and academic subjects complement each other to develop a socially skilled, healthier, and well-rounded student. Students participating in sports and other non-academic activities tend to have good outcomes in academics. This is as a consequence of increased motivation, self-esteem, and better time management. The students become organized in classroom activities, demonstrate a heightened sense of belonging, and reduced at-risk behavior. Students demonstrate a sense of focus to a cause and reduce selfish behavior. The overall outcome of participating in extracurricular activities is an improved behavior.
The university administrators have realized the importance of extracurricular activities and are making it easier for students who excel in them to easily gain entry into the universities. The universities are now interested in students who have something to offer apart from academic ability. They have designed scholarships that favor those who participate in extracurricular activities. Students are, therefore, building their careers out of their hobbies, as opposed to the past, where academic excellence was given priority. The strategy has helped universities to train students who benefit the whole society.
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Majority of universities still emphasize on instructor-led teaching method despite the benefits that are achieved from collaborated learning. Group work helps students to develop and practice skills in problem solving, decision making, critical thinking, value clarification, conflict resolution, negotiation, and communication. Extracurricular activities are also important as they complement academic work and help in developing well-rounded students.
Kennedy, Donald. “Let Them Do It Themselves-In Groups.” Center for Teaching and Learning videotape. 1999.