Individual, individualized, collective, group tutoring, team, cooperative or Montessori learning. In the last article, we compared individual with individualized learning. In a previous article, you could learn about organizational forms of teaching. That is, about how pupils can be taught or, conversely, how teachers can teach them. In the following lines, you will find the differences between collective and group learning, which we will discuss in detail in this very article.
What are organizational forms of teaching?
We have already explained the concept of organizational forms of teaching in previous articles, yet we will gladly repeat its meaning for those who have not read them.
Although the term may seem unimaginable or, in a way, exotic, there is a very simple reality beneath it. It is a particular set of methods in which teaching can be organized. Therefore, the organization of teaching is who and how the teacher works with and where the teaching takes place.
If we were to look at the organization of teaching in most primary schools, we would probably come across frontal teaching, which we will explain in more detail in a moment.
Group tutoring techniques
As we wrote above, in this article, we will explain group tutoring and frontal teaching, their positives and negatives.
“When I first heard the term frontal form of teaching, I imagined a queue in a shop at the checkout. Do students line up in frontal learning? Or what is it then?”
If you are not familiar with the term, you are probably picturing something similar. However, we have to laugh at this question and explain in more detail what frontal, or collective teaching, actually is.
Jan Amos Komenský, who created the system of collective teaching, had already worked with the frontal or collective method of teaching. In this type of teaching, the teacher works with all students at once. Thus, everyone learns the same topic in the same way. It is assumed that the students will be of the same or similar age (the difference arises, for example, in the case of delayed entry into the first grade of primary school).
Frontal teaching can take the form of, for example, whole-class explanation, teaching, one topic by the teacher, independent work set by the teacher the whole class, correcting homework together, or summarizing the topic together.
Lessons are 45 minutes long and are separated by a break. Seating arrangements determine the layout of the classroom, and pupils are seated in the same place throughout the school year. There is a blackboard at the front of the classroom where the teacher has a seat.
Teaching students solely through the teacher’s interpretation is often criticised. Students may not practise the topic sufficiently, and therefore their knowledge is limited, and they do not master it. Quantity, therefore, prevails over quality. Students often memorize the topics without understanding the essence, or knowing the context.
The teacher's too fast or too slow explanation is also often criticised. Slower students may not keep up, or the more talented ones get "bored". Thus, teaching does not produce the desired results.
The human brain can perceive a monotonous explanation for about twenty minutes. After that, the attention span of the audience drops, and they can “sleep with their eyes open”. Thus, the problem also arises when the teacher explains the material monotonously for a longer period, the pupils lose their attention, and it is up to the teacher to deal with the situation. The teacher can either accept the fact that students do not pay attention or keep telling the students to pay attention and interrupt the explanation. Slower pupils will only remember part of the explanation, and more talented pupils are often bothered by interruptions. This is why longer explanations are also criticised.
Frontal teaching can be effective, especially if the teacher checks the students’ knowledge every lesson, the students check their homework together, and constantly repeat and practise the topic under the teacher’s supervision. The teacher provides feedback, points out mistakes, and reviews problematic areas.
In the Czech Republic, the collective form of teaching is often expected of teachers by parents and grandparents who have themselves been taught in this way.
It is groups of students that characterize this type of teaching. Teachers divide students into smaller tutoring groups, and they then complete different tasks. The groups may consist of more gifted or slower students, or the more gifted students may be mixed with the slower ones.
In the latter case, i.e. if the group is diverse, there may be significant improvements in the slower pupils. The more gifted pupils encourage them, and they want to get closer to their level.
This type of teaching teaches pupils mutual tolerance, cooperation, and reasoning. When they want to assert something in a collaborative task, they have to convince others of the truth of their statements. Pupils also focus their attention on learning and get rid of the fear of a bad grade.
Group learning is good for practising and fostering knowledge. However, if the focus is more collaborative, it is no longer group teaching but cooperative teaching, which we will focus on one of the following articles.
Benefits of frontal teaching
- Teaching focuses on key parts of the curriculum and systematic practices
- The topic is explained in a clear and understandable way
- Whole-class explanation saves time
- Students hardly encounter any incorrect statements when the teacher explains the topic
Criticism of frontal teaching
- Pupils' knowledge may be superficial, so they may not master the topic well
- The class does not progress in learning at the same rate, there are slower and more gifted pupils
- Pupils' attention span decreases during prolonged monotonous explanations
- Pupils are not developing independent learning skills
Arguments for group tutoring
- Increased pupil activity
- Involvement of all pupils in group work, cooperation
- Increased pupils' self-confidence, reasoning
- Taking responsibility for own mistakes
- Learning to tolerate each other
- Getting feedback
- Checking each other in the group, clarifying any confusion
- Increased interest in the task at hand, in the topic discussed in general
Arguments against group tutoring
- Pupils often focus only on their own work and do not pay attention to the work of other groups
- Difficult control of pupils by the teacher, teacher's attention is fragmented
- Groups can be noisy
- Pupils work unevenly, some work more, others less
- Some pupils may not cooperate with each other
If we were to summarise group and collective teaching, we would find that they are different from each other. So do other types of teaching. If the teacher correctly assesses the composition and abilities of the class as a whole, he or she can choose the type of teaching form that will produce great results. It is not possible to satisfy all students 100%.
The student, or his or her parents, should always ensure that the knowledge acquired in the classroom is sufficiently repeated, reviewed, and, if necessary, study the topic more at home.
Especially in collective and frontal teaching, repetition, home practice, and self-study are a must. Here, the teacher does not act individually, as in individual or individualized learning, but in a collective manner. It is thus up to the students to foster their knowledge individually.
If the student does not understand the topic, it is advisable to find a tutor who will explain and practice it and help the student understand it. One of the options where to look for a tutor is School Populo. If you or your child has trouble understanding any topic, do not hesitate to contact School Populo.