The implementation of group work in the primary classroom is becoming ever-more frequent as education progresses. Kirk (2001) suggests that the purpose of group work and collaborative learning is to develop children’s skills and knowledge and allow them to access wider sources of learning. This mirrors the purpose of Curriculum for Excellence (2008) which aims to educate children to allow them to become Successful Learners, Confident Individuals, Effective Contributors and Responsible Citizens. Children must develop their skills for life along with their knowledge and understanding in order to fulfil these four capacities. Through the implementation of group work in the classroom, children will gain opportunities to become Successful Learners through talking and listening to their peers, gain confidence through sharing ideas with others, develop teamwork skills through contributing to group projects and discussion, and become responsible for their own learning through taking responsibility of a role in the team. Group work can be used across the curriculum to provide children with experiences of sharing their thoughts, ideas, values and opinions which will, in turn, encourage them to use these skills throughout daily life. Building the Curriculum 2 supports this idea, mentioning that “much effective learning is social”, and that this learning, when undertaken with peers rather than adults, can be very beneficial to children’s learning (The Scottish Government, 2007).
The intention behind this study was to investigate whether the introduction of group roles creates a more purposeful learning environment for children.