Individual differences and secondary school students' feelings towards group work

Year: 1998

Author: Cantwell, Robert, Andrews, Beverly

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

290 secondary school students from Years 7, 9 and 11 completed questionnaires relating to motivational goals, metacognitive awareness, need for affiliation, social anxiety and feelings towards group work. Factor analysis revealed three attitudes towards participation in group work: a preference for group environments, a preference for individual work environments, and a sense of discomfort in group environments. Students reporting a preference for group work also indicated higher levels of sociability, lower levels of social anxiety, stronger mastery and performance goals and greater levels of metacognitive awareness. Students expressing a preference for individual work environments reported lower levels of sociability and higher levels of social anxiety, but were not differentiated on any of the cognitive measures. Students reporting discomfort in groups similarly reported enhanced levels of social anxiety combined with lower levels of sociability, but also indicated lower levels of metacognitive awareness. Results are discussed in the context of current theoretical and empirical work on group-based learning.