Productive Group Work

Productive Group Work

Defining Positive Interdependence:

Positive Interdependence

To create positive interdependence within groups, the group task must be designed so that the participation of every member is necessary to its completion, and students must clearly understand their interdependence in accomplishing the task. The task should also capitalize on the variation among group members so that individual strengths can be tapped. Johnson and Johnson (1994) observed that interdependence may be accomplished in the following four ways:

  • Goals can be made interdependent by assigning a task that requires each member to contribute for the group to be successful. In other words, they sink or swim together.
  • Resources can be distributed to ensure each group member has a unique piece of information essential for completing a task, and no one can complete the task alone or without each member's contribution.
  • Rewards are excellent motivators for interdependence when given both for individual contribution to the group task and for the overall group effort and result. Group members then know they have a stake in each other's learning and their own.
  • Roles can be assigned to give each group member a distinct way to participate in the group's work. Each member's job should be necessary to completing the task. Some common roles are recorder, materials manager, encourager, and reporter.