Small group learning: Graduate health students' views of challenges and benefits

Debra Jackson, Louise D. Hickman, Tamara Power, Rebecca Disler, Ingrid Potgieter, Hiba Deek, Patricia M. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: For health-care professionals, particularly nurses, the need to work productively and efficiently in small groups is a crucial skill required to meet the challenges of the contemporary health-care environment. Small group work is an educational technique that is used extensively in nurse education. The advantage of group work includes facilitation of deep, active and collaborative learning. However, small group work can be problematic and present challenges for students. Many of the challenges occur because group work necessitates the coming together of collections of individuals, each with their own personalities and sets of experiences. Aim: This study aimed to identify challenges and benefits associated with small group work and to explore options for retaining the positive aspects of group work while reducing or eliminating the aspects the students experienced as negative. Method: Online survey; thematic analysis. Results: Over all, students experienced a range of challenges that necessitated the development of problem-solving strategies. However, they were able to elucidate some enjoyable and positive aspects of group work. Implications for teaching and learning are drawn from this study. Conclusion: The ability to work effectively in small groups and teams is essential for all health-care workers in the contemporary health environment. Findings of this study highlight the need for educators to explore novel and effective ways in which to engage nurses in group work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-128
Number of pages12
JournalContemporary Nurse
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2014


  • Group work
  • Learning
  • Survey
  • Teaching
  • Transformational learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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