One head better than two

A recent study conducted by Professor Asher Koriat, of Haifa University, Israel, has found that independent thinking is far more productive than group problem solving.

In posing a series of questions to 38 people both individually and in pairs, Professor Koriat found that when collaborating, subjects often responded with incorrect answers.

While general knowledge questions more frequently produced correct answers from pairs, it was problems of visual perspective, and questions where the least logical answers were correct, that stumped groups most consistently.

The study also investigated how confident subjects were with their individual answers. Results here suggested that those who were most confident were more often than not correct; the implication being that pairs could have worked better together if they were more honest about how confident they were.

Further, of the more challenging questions in group scenarios, Professor Koriat said: ‘In such cases it is the low-confidence individuals who are more likely to be correct, and reliance on the more confident members should lead the group astray.’

As an educator of more than 30 years, what the study highlights to me is the importance of independent thinking skills — something Edworks has understood since its inception, and essentially built its programs around.

In exam situations, kids don’t have the opportunity to team up with fellow students, or raise their hands for teacher assistance. Therefore, while we certainly offer support and guidance, our ultimate goal is to see students thinking and performing at a high standard independently.

The study also demonstrates the need for students to be assertive when performing group tasks. Again, Edworks recognises the importance of fostering confidence in students. Children should always feel they can be valuable contributors in group/team situations, be they in the classroom, sporting arena or at home.

While Edworks tutors focus on encouragement in the classroom, it is important for parents, too, to place a high priority on building self-esteem in their children at home. For some great tips on offering positive affirmations every day, see our article, ‘Think Positive’ It’s amazing how much difference a few encouraging words can make in a child’s development.

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