A relatively recent fad that doesn’t always work as intended. From Kitchen Table Math:
I can say from anecdotal experience that putting kids in groups tends to reinforce the group issues they already had, even cement their anti-social tendencies rather than correct them.
For example, I was in my 4th grader’s classroom awhile back when the kids were assigned to groups of four kids to work on a writing project. It was a pretty good idea and the kids came up with some very interesting ideas. BUT, the groups didn’t seem to enhance the work product — nothing came out of it that they wouldn’t have been able to do individually. And, the kids with the most trouble academically sat on the edges, didn’t contribute or were rebuffed by their more able peers. For them, it was a complete waste of time. For the “good” girls, they had a great time sitting with their friends, putting down the boys in their group, and doing their best to come up with something the teacher would like.
But with the kids divided into 5 or 6 groups, the teacher could not be everywhere. She was needed full-time in at least 3 of the groups, and her dropping in for a few minutes on each group was too little too late. One kid in my daughter’s group is in dire need of social skills. He spent the entire time spinning circles on his butt, standing up and asking to go to the bathroom or wandering off to the windows, or telling the other groups members that this was “stupid” or complaining that no one listened to him. When the teacher hovered, he acted out less, but at no point did he contribute.