Making group work equal

Group work is critical to students’ mathematics learning, as students need to talk about math in order to reason and justify, two practices at the core of the discipline that are also central to the Common Core . But when students work in groups, the group work is often unequal, with some students doing much more of the work than others. In this post we share a strategy for making group work equal.

Complex instruction is a pedagogical approach for making groupwork equitable that is especially valuable in heterogeneous groups. It was designed by Liz Cohen and Rachel Lotan, and we provide links to their book, as well as my new book that includes details of a math department that taught students using complex instruction, with amazing results.

Below you will find a short video of me explaining CI, when I was a professor in England, 2 short videos of some students in England who were in heterogeneous groups, one clip shows them working on a task, the other shows them reflecting on the experience. We urge you to look at the task they were working on – a great NRICH interactive task – before watching the videos. We also provide 4 different papers detailing the work of math teachers who used CI and their results, and a handout for using complex instruction roles.

CI is used in all grade levels and all subjects. We recommend you try it and would love to hear how you get on, using our new community feature.

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