Group cohesiveness is considered by some an essential component in the classroom for learning to take place. In this post, we’ll provide definitions for group cohesiveness, discuss its importance in learning and suggest ideas and tips for the classroom.
Defining group cohesiveness and its importance:
The concept of group cohesiveness – or cohesion – is frequent in many professional fields. In English language teaching, group cohesiveness has to do with the idea of creating a bond between learners, fostering an atmosphere of support and cooperation, and encouraging students to be committed to their own and their peers' learning. Some authors, such as Zoltán Dörnyei, claim that group cohesion is one of the aspects that learners associate positively with the learning environment, and that consequently has an impact on their motivation and self-confidence in the classroom.
An enhanced importance to group cohesiveness is given mostly when social psychological and social interactionist approaches are adopted, while methods and approaches that do not foresee much student-student interaction (such as Grammar Translation and Audiolingualism) do not stress the importance of cohesion amongst learners.
In the approaches to teaching where learner interaction is vital, creating cohesion is one of the most important roles of the teacher. Here are some reasons why:
Classroom ideas and tips:
There is no formula to make a group cohesive. Groups, students and teachers are different, and only by observing students closely and getting to know them in a genuine way will a teacher be able to establish a positive classroom environment. Nevertheless, we gathered some useful tips from teachers and the list below might be useful:
Remember your students’ names and encourage them to remember each other names as well;
Learn about your learners’ objectives and have them share with their peers;
Use ice-breakers and personalised practice activities to get students to know each other better;
Welcome newcomers warmly, integrate them to the group and give learners the opportunity to do the same;
Encourage peer help and peer feedback;
Acknowledge the diversity in your groups and encourage students to respect and cherish differences;
Celebrate the achievement of goals.
I hope this post was helpful! Remember to leave a comment and give us feedback and suggestions for future posts!
Clément, R., Dörnyei, Z., & Noels, K. (1994). Motivation, self-confidence and group cohesion in the foreign language classroom. Language Learning, 44, 417-448.
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Andreia Zakime is an Academic Coordinator at Cultura Inglesa São Paulo, a CELTA tutor and one of the co-founders of What is ELT?