“Collaboration” and “working effectively in groups” are supposed to be 21st century skills that students will need in the workplace, notes Dan Willingham on The Answer Sheet. But teachers don’t know how to teach collaboration: Just putting students in groups doesn’t make them effective.
However, new research provides insight on what good group members do, Willingham writes.
Just as there is a general intelligence or “g factor” in individuals that predicts the likelihood the individual will solve a problem, there is a collective intelligence or “c factor” that predicts group task solution across a broad variety of tasks.
Second, you might expect that the “c factor” would simply be a function of the average intelligence of group members. It wasn’t. The intelligence of individuals mattered, but more important was the social intelligence of group members.
Social intelligence was measured by asking participants to judge what another person is feeling from a photograph of the eyes only. Women tested higher on social sensitivity and groups with more women showed a higher group intelligence.
Letting everyone take a turn in the conversation also contributed to group intelligence.
I spent many years on the San Jose Mercury News editorial board trying to reach consensus on the issues of the day. I don’t think social sensitivity was my strong suit.