From my research, I’ve concluded that the ‘group learning space’ (within a classroom context) can be interpreted in one of two ways.
The first, focuses only on the physical classification of a ‘group’ (2 or more people) put together with no specific structure of student accountability or goals. Students are simply set to ‘do something’ rather than LEARN something (Slavin, 2010). Yes, the task may be completed one way or another, but more times than not, the work is not shared evenly and transformative, reflective learning is often non-existent.
Conversely, the group learning space can rather be seen as a ‘cooperative/collaborative’ environment where each person in the group is accountable for a role, constant communication and collaboration is maintained and monitored, there is a common group learning goal which each member is striving to achieve and as a result students will collaborate with one another through sharing ideas, posing questions, discussing concepts etc in order to attain that learning goal (Slavin, 2010). Learning of this kind is often reflective, proactive and empowering.
Slavin, R. (2010). Co-operative learning: what makes group-work work? The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice, OECD Publishing.