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A Comparison of Individual and Group Work

Education in the contemporary society is one of the important areas that realise effective development and growth. According to Kolb and Kolb (2012, p. 43, para. 4), the learning process is a significant step towards the improvement of the education environment including the students’ outcome. As it stands, traditional learning models are facing replacement, especially with the growing attraction on scientific learning methods. Teaching methods of either individual or group learning differ in terms of creativity and engagement, knowledge retention, and development of interpersonal skills. However, both methods foster learning and accountability of the student towards their success.

Education as a process involves the engagement of the student to a learning process (Kolb & Kolb, 2012, p. 43, para 4-5). Here, learning stems from the student’s ideas on the subject and their understanding. Through testing the students understanding, it becomes possible for the institution to improve the learners’ outcomes. Kolb and Kolb (2012, p. 43, para. 6), explain that efficient learning incorporates conflict of thoughts, differences, disagreement whose resolve progresses learning. At this point, individual learning fails to engineer these difference and disagreement in the students, especially through its independent nature. Comparatively, group learning encourages collaboration of student through the performance of group assignment and projects. In particular, it agrees with the learning theories of Kolb and Kolb (2012, p. 43, para. 4-6) mentioning the integration of the whole person to the learning exercise. A typical example today illustrating the difference in the learning models includes the flipped classroom teaching techniques (Bishop & Verleger, 2013, p. 5, para. 1). With flipped classroom, the emphasis is on the collaboration of the students to generate quality knowledge (Bishop & Verleger, 2013, p. 8, para. 3- 5).

Hsiao, Brouns & Sloep (2010, p. 2, para. 1) introduces the concept of working memory as a concept in the cognitive development in learning. In particular, Hsiao et al. (2010, p. 2, para. 1) argue that group working develops higher memory capacity than individual learning. In particular, through the cooperative working methodology of the group learning, the students manage to increase their working memory interpreting to enhanced knowledge retention. Here, the difference follows the availability of learning networks generated through the cooperative learning environment. The imperative of these learning networks is the reduction of extraneous load generated in self-learning techniques, especially when handling a complex task (Hsiao et al. 2010, p. 2, para. 2). In support of the argument, Kirschner, Paas and Kirschner (2011, p. 2, para. 1; p. 3, para. 2) includes that the collaborative approach fosters higher retention of the knowledge compared to individual learning.

Concerning the development of interpersonal skills, independent learning revolves around individual management of the learning process. In this case, there is limited interaction among the students. In reference to Siemens (2014, p. 1, para. 1), appropriate learning environment centres on the paradigms of cognitive, behavioural, and constructivism skills. In this case, student behaviour and constructiveness highly depend on information sharing and the interactions. Therefore, group learning as a teaching and learning mechanism is well aligned to develop proper interpersonal skills managing excellent learning. It fosters the interconnection of the student towards the acquisition of efficient interpersonal skills.

In summary, the learning process provides different advantages to the students. As such, they carry various limitations that may affect the student outcome. In individual learning, the student is independent making creativity, the level of engagement, the growth of interpersonal skills, and memory lower relative to group learning. Despite the difference, both methods equally compare in enhancing student responsibility and accountability to their educational outcome.


Bishop, J & Verleger, M 2013, ‘The flipped classroom: A survey of the research,’ In ASEE National Conference Proceedings, Atlanta, GA, vol. 30, no. 9, pp. 1- 18.

Hsiao, A, Brouns, F & Sloep, P 2010, ‘Reducing extraneous load of self-organized knowledge sharing by applying peer tutoring in Learning Networks.’

Kirschner, F, Paas, F & Kirschner, P 2011, ‘Superiority of collaborative learning with Individual complex tasks: A research note on an alternative affective explanation,’ Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 53- 57.

Kolb, A & Kolb, D 2012, ‘Experiential learning theory,’ In Encyclopedia of the Sciences of learning, pp. 1215- 1219.

Siemens, G 2014, ‘Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age.’