“A new study finds that 8th grade students in the U.S. score higher on standardized tests in math and science when their teachers allocate greater amounts of class time to lecture-style presentations than to group problem-solving activities.”

Harvard Study in Education Next


Does not surprise me.  I’m an inveterate conference attendee, and I can tell you that I always get a sinking feeling when I show up and the speaker announces “let’s break up into groups….”

Ugh. I’m there to learn from a great speaker! Don’t make me interact with the audience. I can do that anywhere.

Turns out my gut on the matter was right.

Illustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis

  • Elise

    Right after I read the quote and before I read what you wrote, I thought to myself “Surprise, surprise!” My kids are always the ones who do all the work for the other students when working in groups because they get sick of nagging and have no authority to control other students. Once when I told this to my daughter’s teacher, she basically told me that she didn’t know what was wrong with my daughter because she shouldn’t feel the NEED to control everything and do everything herself. Sigh. They never seem to teach kids how to work in groups and they never check up on the kids to make sure everyone is doing their fair share…so yes, surprise, surprise many kids don’t learn anything working in groups.

    • I could have written this comment myself. Though I don’t know if my kids are necessarily the group leaders (maybe, in some cases) — but I prefer them taught (and inspired) by amazing teachers– not broken into groups with other kids. On occasion — ok. But not regularly. I just don’t buy it.

  • Cresta McGowan

    Group work is a waste of time. As a teacher, I HATE IT and I’m forced to do it by my administration or they mark me down on my evaluations. This year I did more group work, by force, and my test scores were lower than ever. Evaluation be dammed, I’m doing what I know works from now on.