Avoider and engager approaches by out-of-class groups: the group equivalent to individual learning approaches
Yan, L and Kember, D, Avoider and engager approaches by out-of-class groups: the group equivalent to individual learning approaches, Learning and Instruction, 14, (1) pp. 27-49. ISSN 0959-4752 (2004) [Refereed Article]
This article reports the group equivalents to deep and surface learning approaches by individuals. The learning behaviour of out-of-class student groups was examined through 57 individual and 15 focus group interviews with university students in Hong Kong. A number of types of learning activities were identified and most had variants with differing levels of involvement. The variations could be explained as resulting from two distinct approaches to group learning. Groups which adopted an engager approach collaborated to better their understanding of an issue or concept. The avoider approach resulted from groups collaborating on study tasks to minimise the amount of work each individual had to perform. The approaches were seen as positions on a spectrum rather than dichotomous categories as many of the types of study activities showed intermediate positions as well as ones at the approach poles. There was evidence of predispositions or preferences towards one or the other approach by particular groups. There was also evidence of groups shifting between approaches depending on the task or the teaching and learning environment, and of development from avoider to engager behaviour by groups. Group learning approaches can, therefore, have both an element of stability and a relational nature. Both the nature of groups and the approach they adopted was influenced by the context in which the learning took place.