Volume 53(1) - 2012 - DOI: 10.5032/jae.2012.01018

Abstract:

Collaborative group problem solving allows students to wrestle with different interpretations and solutions brought forth by group members, enhancing both critical thinking and problem solving skills. Since problem solving in groups is a common practice in agricultural education, instructors are often put in the position of organizing student groups and facilitating group learning. Research has shown that the factors according to which teachers arrange groups hold great influence over the success experienced by a group. The purpose of this study was to examine how arranging groups by problem solving style influenced group problem solving processes. Groups made up of members with heterogeneous or homogenous problem solving styles were given a problem to solve as a class project. Focus groups were conducted with each group at the conclusion of the project to gain an understanding of how each group progressed through the problem solving process. Differences were found in how homogenous versus heterogeneous groups progressed through the problem solving process. With a greater understanding of how problem solving style influences group dynamics, agricultural educators can be more proactive when assigning student work groups, thereby enhancing students' abilities to work interdependently when creating successful solutions.

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