Group working methods, and more particularly assessed group work, have, over the past ten years or so, become integral components of many undergraduate, postgraduate and Higher National Diploma (HND) programmes. This study looks at year one results of two intakes of UK students who, as part of their HND course, undertook a large proportion of their assessment by group work. An “action” research approach combining quantitative and qualitative methodologies is used to gain a deeper insight into academic work patterns and social behaviours in the context of a tutorial group, covering norm setting, the group process, and how these may influence performance in assessments. The findings of this study suggest that group performance is influenced by the degree of heterogeneity in composition, with diverse groups performing more consistently. Within most groups certain elements of process loss are apparent, particularly the “sucker effect”, as well as aspects of process gain. Often both appear to be present and tend to balance each other out.
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