Pernille Foss

‘The use and effect of group work and in-class debates as teaching methods’

The following paper deals with the matter of group work and in-class debates as a pedagogical method of enhanced learning. Four question relating to the involvement of students as individuals, group work as a method and the feasibility and academic level in debates are put forward. Two cases from different courses are given to exemplify and test the methods. The classes in question are an optional course on Museum management at BA level (in-class debate) and an obligatory course on the history of and techniques in archaeological excavation (group work). The cases are presented and evaluated. Both cases had positive outcome relating to the four questions but there are matters open to improvement. Group work is an integrated part of university teaching but it should not be adapted without deliberation. Solving assignments in groups enhances the academic outcome but the inter-personal problems and differences in interests must be taken seriously. It is suggested to plan group work carefully and to discuss the expectations and roles of the members with the students beforehand in order to meet with some of the antipathies. Debates taking place in class and involving groups of opposing students is a method recommended to enhance learning and to encourage the skill to reason within the disciplinary context. It is suggested to integrate in future teaching but with more careful planning and execution.