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Contribution Problems in Student Group Work: Causes and Solutions.

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Contribution problems in Student group work: Causes and solutions.

According to Klummp, (2007) One of the main causes of dispute in group work relates to contribution problems. This essay will consider contribution problems in student group work by: identifying some of the main problems in group work, discussing the possible causes of these and provide a solution for each.

A group performs at its best when;
Barchas (1986) states that “ Throughout the course of evolution the small group became the basic survival strategy developed by the human species”. Therefore it would seem that the formation of groups whether they are social or formal, educational or religious is natural instinct. However group work is rarely flawless, just like individuals in the group, it is not perfect, and so conflict is inevitable in any group situation. Conflict is usually fine in a group, and can even promote even contribution amongst group members, known as constructive conflict. Infact

says that a group that doesn’t have conflict is a group where one member is dominating everything. As the saying goes ‘conflict brings debate and debate brings people together.’ However destructive conflict in groups distracts from the groups goals, can attack individual members and as a result groupthink is generally fostered.

The main problems that can affect group work contributions are:

Group think, according to Janis (1982) is the ‘tendencies to pre maturely occur with some change in group position’. Group think is fostered when, the minority dissent is stifled, the group is in crisis, the group are under external threat, the group are under increased time pressure to make a decision and when levels of cohesiveness are high.


Group Polarisation,

Social loafing, Social loafing is “the decline in member effort that often occurs in groups” (A model of social loafing in real work groups, 1995). Social loafing is most likely to occur in groups where members feel unmotivated and believe that their contribution is unimportant and will not be evaluated or considered amongst other group members. The main causes for social loafing is where there is little or no positive motivational gain for the members whereby there is no incentive for group members to perform and group members deem the task as ‘too easy’ or simplistic. The main solution for social loafing is motivation. This can be achieved by; getting everyone involved in the task by group members taking on a more encouraging social role, thereby supporting group members, praising their individual contributions to the group and maintaining a positive attitude; Also by acting as a gatekeeper, one can regulate the flow of communication between each member and ensure that each member has an opportunity to speak. This role is crucial as it encourages shy members to discuss their ideas and discourages dominant members from taking over the discussion and becoming an aggressor or blocker as they can generally increases negative conflict within a group.

Another problem in group work contributions is Free riding. Free riding is similar to social loafing whereby group members under perform and put little or no effort into the group tasks, however free riding occurs when group members purposely don not perform because they know that someone else in the group will do it for them.

Mike Klumpp


Social loafing


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