Group Work Doesn’t Have To Suck

Slide explaining PIGS Face

This is an assignment for PIDP 3340



My name is Frithjof Petscheleit and I am a first-generation settler on the stolen and unceded land of the Syilx Okanagan people.
Indigenous people have been stewards of this land for time immemorial and I am committed to learning as much as I can about the culture we replaced and about the way the Syilx people passed on skills.
I work at Okanagan College, mostly on the Kelowna campus. I am one of the instructors for our Women in Trades and Trades Sampler programs.


Confucius stated over two thousand years ago:
∞ What I hear, I forget
∞ What I see, I remember.
∞ What I do, I understand.
In 1996 Siberman modified the Confucius quote in his book titled: “Active Learning” as follows:
∞ What I hear, I forget;
∞ What I hear and see, I remember a little;
∞ What I hear, see, and ask questions about or discuss with someone else, I begin to understand;
∞ What I hear see, discuss and do, I acquire knowledge and skills;
∞ What I teach to another, I master.

Slide 3

In most trades occupations, working as a team is an important skill to learn. Yet, in most college trades classes, group work is very rare.
One reason for this is the reputation of group work.
Experience tells us that students either think that they are doing the work for everyone else or that they don’t need to put in an effort.
Let’s look at some factors we can bring into play that can make group work suck less.


We are going to look at the principles behind the acronym PIGS-Face.
Next I am going to talk about roles in groups and we learn how to implement groups Moodle.
At the end I would like to invite you to ask any questions you might have.
PIGS FACE stands for:
Positive interdependence
Individual accountability
Group processing
Social skills
FACE-to-face promotive interaction
Keeping these factors in mind when we are designing group activities goes a long way to making collaborative learning groups more successful.
Positive Interdependence
The success of one person is bound to the success of others in collaborative learning activities.
This is referred to as positive interdependence. Interdependence is meant to foster cooperation within the groups.
Students need to have a reason for working together.
Collazos said “We can call group practices collaborative only when Positive Interdependence is among group members: the belief of sinking or swimming together while they are committed to reach a common goal. The success of a member is bound to the success of the group.”

Individual Accountability

Individual accountability motivates each group member to actively engage in learning tasks, thus preventing “social loafing,” or one group member benefiting from the actions of others and ensures each member of the group becomes stronger.

Group Processing

Traditionally, group work is done by everyone working on parts of the assignment and then stitching it together at the end.
If we facilitate the group working together so the students can process the information as a group, we can help them to learn together achieve a higher level of satisfaction.

Social Skills

Social skills are important skills for a tradesperson to have. By assigning group work we offer the class an opportunity to work with their classmates, solve conflicts and learn to appreciate everyone’s strengths.

Face-to-Face promotive interaction

Face-to-face promotive interaction gives students the opportunity to present what they worked out to their peers in a safe environment and learn from each other.
To me, Zoom sessions with the whole class present, count as Face-to-Face interaction.
At this point, I want to introduce the concept behind my lesson plan assignment.
In our Women in Trades courses, we split up the class into groups of eight for the workshop classes. The half of the class that is not in the shop, needs to work on self-study assignments.
I plan to form groups to work on parts of the self-study assignments during self-study time and then present what the group learned to the rest of the class during Friday’s wrap-up session.
This Friday presentation is a wonderful opportunity for promotive interaction and will give the students the satisfaction of teaching their classmates what they learned.

Group Roles

To fairly distribute the workload in a group, it is important to assign defined roles to the students.
In my example I plan to let the students choose the following roles within their group of four:

All group members are to read the materials provided and participate in further research. But to make sure the workload is distributed fairly we will have:
Facilitator (keeps group on task)
Reporter (keeps notes)
Designer (responsible for designing the presentation)
Presenter (presents to class)

The groups work online from home or at the college if they choose to do so. The presentation – in whatever form the group chooses will be done to the whole class in the Friday wrap-up session.

This concept utilizes all the elements of PIGS-Face and it has the potential to create a positive group experience. At the same time, the students experience breaking up a big daunting task and converting it so everyone gets to learn all the material.

The theory parts of our course are all online. That’s why the group work will be online too. Dr Nellie Deutsch has a great video about how to set it up.


I must admit that I chose PIGS-Face so I could put cute piglets into my presentation. I hope the piggies were not too distracting and you have some questions for me.


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