“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” by Mattie Stepanek
Many times in the classroom when a group of students are collaborating on a project, we see one or maybe two students not pulling their weight or working to their potential. This is called, Social loafing. Social loafing is the tendency to reduce individual efforts when working in groups compared to the individuals effort expended when working alone (Williams & Karau, 1991). Social loafing can also happen within online groups as well. How can educators prevent social loafing in the classroom? Here are my top 5 ideas on how to prevent it.
1. Create rubrics. Set expectations for the project with a rubric but also include a team work component. Have students evaluate themselves as a group before turning in the project, this allows for individual accountability for the group as well.
2. Create reasonable sized groups. Making sure groups sizes are not too large will help with social loafing. Groups sizes should be between 3-5 members, to see the most productivity.
3. Have the students develop rules for the group. Setting rules at the beginning will help all group members achieve the goal. I would give 5-8 minutes for the students to decide on the rules of the group. This allowed them to take ownership of the group along with teaching them real word skills. If you want, the teacher, can also create the rules and assign the jobs for each group member.
4. Model and teach students how to use accountable talk. Accountable talk refers to the ways that educators precisely encourage their students to think deeply, articulate their reasoning, and listen with purpose. There is a great book called, Comprehension through Conversation that helps give you strategies for you to model and teach students to have these rigorous conversations.
5. Highlight individual and group achievements. Everyone wants to feel accepted and highlighting students strengths and achievements will help show that they are a value to the group. I do this by facilitating around the room and making sure each time I go to a group, I make a comment about a different team members progress.
I would love to know any other ideas on how to prevent social loafing in the classroom. Please share your ideas in the comment section.