Groups and Classrooms

Kutnick, Peter, and Peter Blatchford. “Groups and Classrooms.” Effective Group Work in Primary School Classrooms. Springer Netherlands, 2014. 23-49.


The aim of Chap. 2 is to review studies of the classroom as a general and social pedagogic context for learning in primary schools. This review begins with a few premises, namely that: during the majority of time that children spend in their classrooms, they are found in some form of peer-based group; cognitive and other learning practices are intimately connected to the child’s interactions with teachers and peers; and there are a number of experimental and naturalistic studies that provide evidence of effective and ineffective learning in classroom groups. Experimental studies usually draw upon co-operative and collaborative learning theories and show some positive effects for learning. But experimental studies do not necessarily draw information from the whole class or consider effects for all of the children in a class. Co-operative and collaborative learning studies show how social contexts can be set up to promote active (mainly cognitive) and interactive learning by children especially with regard to children’s collaborative talk. Naturalistic studies, on the other hand, focus on the whole class and have shown how learning opportunities may be hindered by social contexts found in classrooms. Groups of children are rarely asked to collaborate, cognitive learning tasks tend to be connected to teacher-child interaction and do not develop opportunities for peer-based learning. Children are rarely taught to work effectively within groups. ‘Classroom mapping’ studies are used to identify basic considerations for the understanding of a social pedagogy of classroom learning that include: the size and composition of pupil groups, interaction and working arrangements for groups, types of learning task and curricular constraints, and the role of the teacher is setting-up and working within the classroom environment.