Coming from Somewhere Else: Group engagement between students and academics
Keywords:Group work, belonging, empowerment, social and emotional wellbeing, equality, ethnographic
The present political and economic climate for universities can promote competitive learning and anxieties about individual students' academic achievements. It can inhibit the enjoyment and skill in shared learning. Group work can provide a creative, empowering avenue so students become proactive in their learning and engage more equally with academics. It has potential to enhance intellectual ability as well as social and emotional wellbeing, yet careful planning is essential to achieve this. This paper addresses the shortfall of prioritising assessment over relationships and identifies how relationships are central in preparation for assessment. It draws upon an ethnographic, qualitative and emancipatory approach to research. This approach enabled students to initiate the research focus and design of the last session. The paper identifies how the group was set up, developed and what it achieved. It makes recommendations for overcoming some tensions and fears that can inhibit effective group work so that social and emotional equity inspires intellectual development.
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