Homework Should Never Be Done Alone

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Recently I was working on a set of homework problems and couldn't figure out the last problem. I just didn't understand how to put the data into the equation I had. So after working on the problem for quite a long time I called a friend and asked her how she did the problem. She pointed out that I was using the wrong equation. Looking back over the problem it seemed so obvious. As we've talking about before I had hindsight bias when I was thinking that however, it should have been easier than I made it. I was so stuck in my mental set of using a specific equation that I never even considered using a different equation. Oddly enough I can't think of how I could have avoided this. It almost seems like my professor wanted us to get stuck and be challenged! Is there something I could have done differently? Simply doing the problems backwards doesn't seem like it would always solve the problem of forming mental sets. My best guess would be to work with a group of people. It is far less likely that you would fall prey to the obstacles of problem solving if you work with other people. However, in group settings sometimes if one person makes a mistake it's easy to be blinded by it because of a group mentality. I feel like there are pros and cons to the solution of working in a group to avoid making errors in problem solving.

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I definitely agree that there are pros and cons to working together as a group. I also believe that if one approaches group work in the right way its advantages will outweigh its disadvantages. For example, in my math class last semester I knew very few of my peers and, as a result of this, I struggled quite a bit on the problems by myself; however; my math class this semester is full of friends in which I work with whenever there is homework due. This scenario makes doing homework much easier but leaves me less prepared for exams. Both of these scenarios are examples of ways in which group work isn't as advantageous as it could be. It would be best to attempt all the problems first and then consult with the group for help on the challenging ones. This way one is not only prepared for exams, but also the homework isn't as much of a burden. It would be interesting to find out if there are any studies that relate to this in particular.

I too agree that there are both pros and cons for working together. However, sometimes working in a group can increase hindsight bias. Many times a group member who is previously known for correctly solving problems, happens to get one wrong. Therefore the rest of the group follows his or her steps and too gets the problem wrong. I believe that students while working in groups need to each do the problem separately and then go over the answers together making sure they follow the correct steps and arrive at the correct answer. By solving the equation by yourself and following up with group work decreases the hindsight bias and can often allow you to see different perspectives of an answer.

There are significant pros and cons to working in group settings on homework. There is always the situation where one student does all the work and everyone copies. But how do you know that they know what they are talking about. Do you put all your trust in that person for your homework? While it is easy to give up and join a group setting to knock out homework, a strategy I use when I am stuck on a problem is to simple take a break and walk away. 9 out of 10 times I notice what I did wrong just by taking a break and coming back to the problem refreshed. Your brain can do miraculous tasks without the help of others.

Great post! I found it interesting how you quickly gravitated towards a study group as the answer to a difficult problem though. Although it can get frustrating at times, I think that I can learn best when I struggle through a problem to find the answer. Just the struggle alone and knowing that I tried multiple paths to get the right answer is a learning process in itself. I agree with your approach to form a study group, though it just wouldn't be my first option. There are time when a group a friends can be the ones to put your thoughts in perspective. Like you mentioned, you can be on the wrong mental track and be stuck in a rut for quite some time. Times like these is when I'd reference others for help.

I agree and vividly see the advantages you can get from working within a group while doing homework, especially in the area of things like mathematics. One person may be better at one sub topic within the entire subject while another may not, and more brains would be better than one in this instance. But, in my opinion, the whole purpose of homework is to find an understanding of the topics so you can do well later on when the same idea is presented to you, so I think you would be better off in the long run using different resources to figure out yourself. while taking a test on the subject, you aren't going to be able to work in a group. So if instead you yourself while having trouble solving the problem were to go back into the text book and read through that area, you would be better off for yourself in learning the subject.

Love this post! It was very spot on for me. I vary inbetween the group setting and private study sessions. I feel like I am more productive if I have others beside me working. It makes me feel like I SHOULD be doing my homework because everyone else is. I don't want to be the dummy filtering through Facebook. It's motivating it that sense. However, when I work in groups I tend to feel a little excluded because I don't like to blurt out possible answers. I only like to express my ideas if I am entirely sure that they are accurate. This makes it more difficult for me speak up, because by the time I run a thought through my head enough, my group has already moved on to the next question and my idea is never heard.
It really depends on where I am in my homework and what kind of question I am dealing with. I like the motivation of the group, but sometimes I feel like my need to think is belittled, as I just accept the group's answers.

I, like the others who commented, also strongly agree with the statements made in this post. I too find it helpful and beneficial to work with a group of people when working through problems. not only can group members answer particular questions I may have, but they can also keep me motivated to complete my tasks. It's so easy to find enjoyable activities to eat up free time, but there comes a time when that homework must be done! And who better to administer your efforts than other people working on the same material? I agree that it can sometimes be tough to have your questions/opinions voiced when in a group, but I feel that a small group with just friends can help relieve any sort of tension. With that being said, the ideas of others can help your own interpretations flourish, and that homework you've been putting off can finally be completed!

I agree with everyone above me in that group work has its pros and cons. Personally, I find that bouncing ideas off of others and helping each other work through problems step by step is a great idea and usually beneficial. But sometimes it can definitely be a very harmful collaboration. Group members may misallocate resources and duties resulting in social loafing, disagreements and unfair dispersion of duties. I also agree that opinions can sometimes be silenced in group work but overall I see how efficient groups usually tend to be and would be pro group work if I had to choose.

I have always benefited by working on homework with friends, but this definitely has to have it's limitations. By "working with friends" I mean everyone attempting things independently and then helping each other when problems arise. I know that this is my favorite way to do homework. If we actually work through problems as a group, I won't remember them later. But if I try to work through them alone and get stuck, I don't learn anything either. Working together in my opinion is very helpful, and it takes some of the tedious feel out of work as well, just because of the social aspect.

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This page contains a single entry by truck014 published on March 25, 2012 9:14 PM.

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