Independent vs. Group Learning
By: Priscilla Carey
Born on November 17,
1896 in Orsha
Grew up in Gomel
Russia in the midst of a
Revolution as people
expelled the Tsars and
Educated as a lawyer,
philologist but worked
as a schoolteacher
Became a Faculty
member at Moscow
Died in 1934 from
Books banned by the
because of intelligence
tests that the
Zone of Proximal
“It is the distance between the actual
development level as determined by
independent problem solving and the
level of potential development as
determined through problem solving
under adult guidance or in collaboration
with more capable peers”
Socially meaningful activity- humans know
themselves and others through their interactions.
Psychological Tools- refers to signs that enable
humans to have control over their mental behavior.
Natural and Cultural Mental Behavior- lower form
of behavior that humans share with animals that
through mediated activity like signs humans obtain a
higher form of behavior.
External and Inner Speech- at first speech occurs
only in a social context but later turns inward.
Sociohistorical Theory- through the interaction with
culture in children's education they will develop a
cultural mental behavior.
Will students actually perform a task
better when they work together versus
when the students work independently?
From my knowledge of Vygotsky, I believe that
students who work together as a group will
perform better than the students who work
I went to a second grade classroom at Holy Family.
Where I divided eight of the students into two groups
composing of two boys and two girls that worked on a
dog puzzle together. The rest of the seven students
worked independently on a Superman puzzle. I went
back in a couple of days to see if the students in the
group or the independents would be able to complete
the puzzle better.
Groups Names of Peer Level of Time Level of # Pieces Comments
Children Difficulty Engaged Engagement Connected
Group Chance M 2 35 min. 1 All Girls worked together
#1 Jonathan L and boys worked
Tracy M together. Worked on
dogs and then rest of
Natalie A the puzzle. Asked if
they were being timed.
Group John A 3 1 hour 2 All John and Jason
#2 Jason L worked on outside
Lauren M pieces while the girls
worked on the dogs.
Melissa A Lauren and Jason
were talking, Lauren
said I do not work on
the outside pieces, I
am not normal.
Peer Level of Difficulty Level of Engagement
M- More Capable Peer 1- Easy 1- Fully Engaged
L- Least Capable Peer 2- Medium 2- Partly Engaged
A- Average Peer 3- Hard 3- Not Engaged
Child’s Level of Time Engaged Level of # of Comments
Name Difficulty Engagement Pieces
Jason 3 40 min. 2 30 Did not seem interested.
Soomin 2 40 min. 1 37 Worked on outside, was
intently working for a while
until he got disgusted that he
could not find a piece.
Tyler 3 1 hr. 5 min. 2 24 Worked on the inside.
Katrina 2 1 hr. 10 min. 2 45 She wanted to continue
working on puzzle, started
with the inside.
Gaberial 3 35 min. 3 7 Wanted to work with a group.
Matthew 2 35 min. 2 30
Sam 2 35 min. 2 24 Worked on the inside.
Key Level of Difficulty Level of Engagement
1- Easy 1- Fully Engaged
2- Medium 2- Partly Engaged
3- Hard 3- Not Engaged
Groups- Independent Visit #2-3
Groups Child’s Level of Time Level of # of pieces Comments
Name Difficulty Engaged Engagement Connected
Group Chance-M 2 1 hr. 10 2 All Got up and talked to
#1 Visit # 3 min. other students a lot.
Jonathan- 2 1 hr. 1 All Like Tracy he took
L the puzzle pieces
Visit # 2-3 and compared to the
Tracy-M 2 1 hr. 5 1 All Took puzzle pieces
Visit #2 min. and compared them
Group John-A 3 1 hr. 10 1 All
#2 Visit # 2-3 min.
Jason-L Did not want to work
Visit # 3 on the puzzle.
Lauren-M 2 1 hr. 1 All Started to work on
Visit # 2 the puzzle from
inside then outside
Melissa-A 3 45 min. 2 30
Visit # 3
Independents Visit # 2-3
Child’s Name Level of Time Level of # of pieces Comments
Difficulty Engaged Engagement connected
Jason 3 1 hr. 40 min. 3 44 Like last time
Visit # 2-3 he did not
Soomin 2 1 hr. 40 min. 1 All Did not have
Visit # 2-3 as much
Tyler 3 2 hr 15 min. 2 All He never
Visit # 3 gave up.
Katrina 2 1 hr. 5 min. 1 All Did very well.
Visit # 2
Gaberial 3 30 min. 3 17 Did not want
Visit # 3 to do the
Matthew 3 1 hr. 3 31 Wanted to
Visit # 3 stop.
Sam 2 1 hr. 20 min. 2 All
Visit # 2-3
Comparison of Groups vs. Independents
Name Level of Time Finish
Name Level of Time Finish Jason 3 1 hr. 40 44
Engagement Engaged min.
Chance 2 1hr. 10 Y Soomin 1 1 hr. 40 Y
Jonathan 1 1 hr. Y Tyler 2 2 hr. 15 Y
Tracy 1 1 hr. 5 Y
min. Katrina 1 1 hr. 5 Y
John 1 1 hr. 10 Y
min Gaberial 3 30 min. 17
Lauren 1 1 hr. Y Matthew 3 1 hr. 31
Melissa 2 45 min. 30 Sam 2 1 hr. 20 Y
My Hypothesis was Correct!
In the first 20 to 30 minutes of starting the puzzle,
both the groups and the independents were equal in
their knowledge of the puzzle. After this time period,
the students who had worked in groups started to put
the puzzle pieces together at a much faster rate
then the students who worked on the puzzle
independently the first time around.
At Holy Family, the second grade students had
two folders set upright on their desks. So, they
would not cheat on their spelling test.
Many classrooms do not have group work
instead they focus on the individuals
Implications for Today’s Classrooms
Vygotsky is starting to take hold.
Several recent studies on group learning in junior
and high schools that focused on subjects like
Math and English.
Studies have also shown more interest in play for
elementary children. It is no longer just free time.
Benefits for Students
Express ideas to a group
Engage in higher-order thinking
Benefits for Teachers
Group learning allows the teachers to see
the students who understand the material
and the students who do not understand
The teacher then has time to know each
individual student and can help them
individually in their learning process.
Evaluation of the Study
Have the children solve the opposite
puzzle to see if the students in the
group still work better.
Allow the students to work all at the
same time because the students became
disinterested in the puzzles once most
of the class was done.
Nature vs. Nurture
Where would Vygotsky go?
Nature Vygotsky Nurture