Increasingly, students are asked to undertake assignments and projects in small groups. Research tends to indicate that students working in small groups have better learning outcomes both in quantity of information learned and retention.
There are two aspects of group work to keep in mind when deciding upon learning outcomes. Some group work focus on output—the creation of a report, presentation, model, etc. Others focus on the process of group dynamics and the development of interpersonal and problem solving skills. It is important to decide how you weight these two components and to convey this information to your students.
Some useful resources include:
"Cooperative Learning: Students Working in Small Groups", Barbara Gross Davis in Speaking of Teaching, Stanford's newsletter on teaching, Winter, 1999
Teaching Strategies: Group Work and Team Work, CRLT, University of Michigan
Technologies Supporting and Enhancing Student Group Work:
With the growth of social software tools, there are many possible small group activities that can utilize technology. Some of the most common are:
Collaborative writing environments—depending upon your desired purpose, wikis (a web-based collaborative space) and blogs are tools that encourage participation and both collaborative writing and peer-writing feedback.